Spring break in Florida has made headlines over recent days. Thousands of students have hit beach cities to party and enjoy themselves, despite the ongoing threat of Covid-19.
Florida, Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, 38, who last year wore a gas mask during a House debate as a comment on Covid paranoia, appeared on Fox News last night to tell Sean Hannity that he’d allowed his freshman son, Nestor, to go to Panama Beach, FL, during spring break.
“My son is a college freshman. He had no real graduation, no prom, and I struggled with whether or not to allow him to enjoy spring break at Panama City beach. I allowed him to have an abbreviated one.” — Matt Gaetz on Nestor pic.twitter.com/djrlUKjfCB
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 23, 2021
“My son is a college freshman,” Gaetz said. “He had no real graduation, no prom, and I struggled with whether or not to allow him to enjoy spring break at Panama City beach. I allowed him to have an abbreviated one.
“I did not have a good night’s rest the entire time he was there until I knew he was safe, okay, and back at school.”
Gaetz’s relationship with Nestor has raised eyebrows since it became public last year. The lawmaker, who recently voted against the Equality Act, had previously referenced the young man as his “helper,” a “House page,” and a “local student” in social media posts and statements.
Then, last June, Gaetz revealed he’d been living with the 19-year-old, Cuban immigrant since the young man was 12. He later clarified that Nestor was the younger brother of an ex-girlfriend, and he splits his time between living with Gaetz, his sister and Gaetz’s family.
Although Gaetz now refers to Nestor as his “son”, he has not formally adopted him, saying, “Our relationship as a family is defined by our love for each other, not by any paperwork.”
Students descending upon Florida beaches for spring break have been largely condemned because of the risk of spreading Covid and for drunken behavior.
After thousands of maskless young people hit Ocean Drive in Miami at the weekend, the city introduced an 8pm curfew.
Although Panama City is less popular than Miami, many of its beaches have also set their own Covid-era spring break rules, such as barring alcohol.
Gaetz, who got engaged to girlfriend Ginger Luckey last December, took to Twitter after his interview with Hannity to say that Spring Breakers were welcome to come to Florida to “get a little weird” provided they behaved themselves and didn’t get… well, “too weird.”
“If you want to come to Florida and enjoy freedom, go to a restaurant, go to the beach, go fishing, get a little weird (not too weird…) Then as we say in the deep south, y’all come! But if you’re coming to cause damage and harm, you’ll be held accountable.”
If you want to come to Florida and enjoy freedom, go to a restaurant, go to the beach, go fishing, get a little weird (not too weird…)
Then as we say in the deep south, y’all come!
But if you’re coming to cause damage and harm, you’ll be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/uYoJSUuy9K
— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 23, 2021
Asked to define “a little weird,” Gaetz gave wearing some bodypaint and beads as examples.
On Twitter, the interview prompted much debate. Some said Gaetz was not the best role model for setting the definition of “weird”, while others questioned why it was down to the Rep. to “allow” Nestor to do anything.
Allowed? Isn’t Nestor both an adult and not actually Gaetz’s son?
— Pennybags (@NouveauBougee) March 23, 2021
Nestor is Matt Gaetz’s ex-girlfriend’s brother. He is not his son.
— CALL YOUR SENATOR (202) 224-3121 (@sequinpants) March 23, 2021