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Matt Gaetz describes himself as ‘single step-parent’ to Nestor Galban

Family relationship isn’t defined by paperwork, Florida Republican says

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hours after making a surprise announcement Thursday on his personal Twitter account that he had a son named Nestor Galban, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz continued to tout his family in the press and on his own podcast. However, there is still a lack of clarity about the two-term Republican’s relationship to the person he has described as his son.

In an interview with People magazine, Gaetz repeatedly referred to 19-year-old Galban as his son, but stops short of saying he had formally adopted him. “Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork,” he said. He would later elaborate on that in his podcast.

Gaetz tweeted on Thursday that Galban had legally come from Cuba six years ago and lives with him in Florida.

When reached by CQ Roll Call, Gaetz’s staff could not clarify further on the relationship. Data compiled by CQ Roll Call — and previously confirmed by Gaetz’s office — did not list the congressman as having any children during his tenure so far in Congress or as a House candidate.

“He’s part of my family story,” Gaetz told People magazine, adding that Galban was his son “in every conceivable way, and I can’t imagine loving him any more if he was my own flesh and blood.”

Gaetz’s announcement came in the wake of a heated exchange during Wednesday’s House Judiciary markup of the Democrats’ policing overhaul bill — after Louisiana Democrat Cedric L. Richmond, who is black, relayed his individual experiences with excessive police force and concerns over racial disparities and the impact it would have for his black son.

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Gaetz interjected, “Are you suggesting that none of us have nonwhite children?”

Richmond then said: “It is not about the color of your kids. It is about black males, black people in the streets, that are getting killed. And if one of them happens to be your kid, I’m concerned about him too, and clearly, I’m more concerned about him than you are.”

Gaetz responded, “You’re claiming you have more concern for my family than I do. Who the hell do you think you are?”

He explained his reaction at the House Judiciary markup in a Thursday evening interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News. “It’s certainly offensive to have someone tell you that you don’t know what a certain experience is like when they know nothing about you. Nestor is the light of my life. I couldn’t imagine loving him anymore if he was my own flesh and blood,” he said. In that interview, Gaetz stopped short of directly referring to Galban as his son.

Since Gaetz’s announcement, there were differences between his tweets on his personal account and on his official House Twitter account. Through his personal Twitter, Gaetz has repeatedly described Galban as his son.

His congressional office account tweeted about him and Galban several times but initially did not explicitly refer to Galban as Gaetz’s son. Instead, the official account described Galban in one tweet as “part of my family story.” In another, he was described as a “remarkable young man.” Late Friday evening, the official account tweeted about Gaetz’s latest “Hot Takes” podcast and linked to a news release that described Galban as his son.

The description of Friday’s podcast episode reads: “Do More AG Barr. Gator Bait and Chief Canceled. Nestor’s PrimeTime Debut.”

In the podcast, Gaetz says: “My family was in the news over the last 24 hours, and I can’t say I was expecting this to happen this week. But I certainly don’t mind that it did. Here’s Tucker Carlson’s setup last night of the interview I had with my son Nestor.”

In the podcast, he describes how Galban is the brother of an ex-girlfriend of his and that “I sort of feel like a single step-parent at times” and that “I do feel a special kinship with step-parents all over. You know, there’s a certain kind of love that you can give to another human being, you know, that is not your own flesh and blood, that’s not your own kid. But you love ‘em as much as you would love anyone that was your own child. That you couldn’t imagine loving them anymore. I don’t have any biological children, but I absolutely have a son.”

In the podcast, Gaetz said Galban spends time with his sister, with Gaetz’s family and with Gaetz. He refers to questions about why he does not have adoption paperwork and says: “He’s 19 years old now. Our family was never defined by paperwork or blood. It was truly defined by the love we have for each other.”

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