Florida Republican House Representative Matt Gaetz has found himself embroiled in the scandal of a lifetime over the course of the last few weeks after multiple reports broke featuring steep, disturbing allegations of everything ranging from fake ID scams to sex trafficking, to statutory rape.
Gaetz, of course, has vehemently denied any and all accusations against him and dug his own hole increasingly deeper as he tries to wiggle and worm his way out of the trouble that’s rapidly mounting against him. And in true GOP fashion, it seems that his powerful family is wasting no time getting in on the corruption in an attempt to keep Matt’s nose as clean as they can.
Recently, POLITICO’s Gary Fineout took a trip down to Gaetz’s state of Florida to do a little digging and came out with a deep-dive, tell-all piece of the corruption, power plays, dirty money, and schemes that hail not only from Matt Gaetz himself but from Gaetz’s father, as well.
Fineout opens his piece by touching on Gaetz’s old nickname in the state of Florida before he busted into the scene for all his schemes and scandals — “Baby Gaetz.”
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Matt’s “baby” moniker highlighted just how deeply in the shadows of his father “Papa Gaetz,” a former Florida senator, the GOP House Rep. truly was.
Matt’s father Don spent an entire generation lording politics in the Florida Panhandle and still today, at 73-years-old, even as scandal looms over his family, Don still enjoys a considerable level of sway and power in the region. It was thanks in large part to Don, that Matt has enjoyed the political career he has so far.
“He was a force of nature,” former state Senate President Joe Negron, a Republican who was budget chairman under Don Gaetz stated. “Don held himself to an incredibly high standard of ethics, preparation, and performance and demanded no less from those around him. If you’re going into a tough battle, there is no ally more loyal and unflinching than Don Gaetz. It’s not surprising that the historical figure that Don most admires is Winston Churchill.”
With his son now deeply embroiled in scandals so horrifying they’ll make your skin crawl, it seems as though Don is using that power to try to shield his son.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the elder Gaetz, one Florida political operative said, “Don has a lot of power and friends in Florida politics. There are a lot of people who owe him favors. They are repaying those favors by staying silent about his son.”
One former northwest Florida legislator who used to have a close working relationship with Gaetz, Ray Sansom, explained, “There’s obviously people who respect Don. There’s obviously people who feel like they have been hurt by him… Don’s very rough. If he’s against you, he’s against you in a very rough way.”
POLITICO’s piece dives deep into the vein of corruption that runs through this political family and touches on what Don’s level of power could potentially mean for his son.
You can read the full report here.