During the past decade, Matt Gaetz, Rep. Fl, has ascended the political latter at a remarkable pace and developed a national following among staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump. Much like Trump, Gaetz has displayed an undeniable mastery self-promotion. Whether you’re a supporter of Gaetz or a devoted opponent, there is no denying the fact that Gaetz has rapidly expanded his brand through controversial words and actions that have thrown his name into the national spotlight far more frequently than the average American congressman can tout.
Before Gaetz was making regular appearances on Fox News, joining President Trump at the World Series, and gaining national attention for performative political acts such as donning a gas mask during one of the first congressional meetings after the original COVID outbreak, Gaetz’ was making savvy career moves to complement his family ties to political power in Florida.Gaetz path to national recognition spans all the way back to his youth. He is the son of former Florida State Senate President Don Gaetz, and was raised in Niceville, FL, but also spent time in the family’s second home in Seaside, a planned community near Destin. That second home for the Gaetz family was also the primary home featured in “The Truman Show.”
While Gaetz was in his thirties, much of his time each spring was spent in Tallahassee as as state representative for the Fort Walton Beach area. During those years, Gaetz faced little to no opposition throughout each election cycle. He was unopposed for a full term in 2010, and in 2012. In 2014 while his father was Senate President, he built upon a relationship with one of the most powerful lobbyist families in Florida, as well as the nation. In 2016, Gaetz utilized those connections, combined with the contacts he already had as the son of a state senate president, to ride the coattails of Trump’s rise to the top of Republican Primary candidates and ultimately, the White House.
Business Background in the Marijuana Industry
In 2014 Gaetz saw a growing trend toward acceptance of marijuana legalization, even among fellow conservatives, and made investments in companies that were in the initial planning stages of becoming marijuana growers. In 2014, Gaetz ushered through the House version of the 2014 legislation that became Florida’s medical marijuana law: the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act, initially only permitted low-THC varieties. The bill spurred what’s commonly known as a “green rush,” of marijuana-growing investors and entrepreneurs raced to grab a share of the fledgling market. At the federal level, Gaetz introduced legislation to reclassify cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act, and to loosen federal restrictions on the cultivation of cannabis for research purposes.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, on the day in January 2019 that Gov. Ron DeSantis had issued a directive to end a ban on marijuana, Gaetz appeared in a celebratory video with John Morgan, the patriarch of the Morgan & Morgan mega-law firm and prominent advocate for medical marijuana.
“Matt Gaetz is the father of marijuana in Florida,” Morgan said, cigar in hand, citing Gaetz’s support years earlier for legalizing the strain of marijuana known as “Charlotte’s Web.”
Opposed Resolution to Honor Police Who Defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021
In June 2021, Gaetz was one of 21 House Republicans to vote against a resolution to give the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
Vocally Opposes the Power of Big Tech, but Married the Sibling of a Big Tech Leader
In December 2020, Gaetz announced his engagement to his girlfriend, Ginger Luckey, the sister of Oculus VR founder and major Republican donor Palmer Luckey.They married in August 2021. In 2022, Gaetz was one of 39 Republicans to vote for the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act of 2022, an antitrust package that would crack down on corporations for anti-competitive behavior.
In 2021, Gaetz joined Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene began on an “America First Tour” on May 7, in The Villages, Florida. During the tour, Gaetz and Greene repeated debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election, attacked Big Tech and, at one event, claimed that the Second Amendment was for “maintaining, within the citizenry, the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary.” As a consequence of the controversy the speakers had generated, their appearance at a conference site at Laguna Hills, in Orange County, California, was canceled.