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Rep. Matt Gaetz Said He Has A Teenage Son From Cuba Named Nestor

"We share no blood but he is my life."

Posted on June 18, 2020, at 8:27 p.m. ET

Kevin Dietsch / AP

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks in Washington, DC, June 17.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said he has a Cuban son — although not by blood — after a fiery exchange in Congress over the violence Black people face from police.

The revelation was met with surprise and skepticism from critics of the outspoken Republican since, until the emotional exchange on Wednesday, the unmarried representative was not believed to be a father.

"Are you suggesting that you're certain that none of us have nonwhite children because you reflect on your Black son and say none of us could understand?" Gaetz asked Democratic Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana.

"Matt, Matt, stop — I'm not about to get sidetracked about the color of our children," Richmond responded. "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."

"You're claiming you have more concern for my family than I do?" Gaetz responded, banging on his desk with an open hand. "Who in the hell do you think you are?"

Things got HEATED between Cedric Richmond and Matt Gaetz just now. Richmond: "It's not about the color of your kids. It's about black males...If one of them happens to be your kid, I'm more concerned about him then you!" Gaetz: "Who the hell do you think you are?!"

Gaetz's response was first met with scrutiny and then became a target for memes and jokes at his expense — again, because he was widely believed to have no children.

On Thursday, however, he tweeted a picture of himself and 19-year-old Nestor, whom he described as his son who has been living with him in Florida for six years.

Nestor, he said, immigrated from Cuba, "legally, of course," the Republican member of Congress noted.

"I'm so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I've done in my life," Gaetz wrote.

For all those wondering, this is my son Nestor. We share no blood but he is my life. He came from Cuba (legally, of course) six years ago and lives with me in Florida. I am so proud of him and raising him has been the best, most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life.

BuzzFeed News reached out to Gaetz's office on whether the lawmaker had legally adopted Nestor but did not immediately hear back from a spokesperson.

After sharing the photo, Gaetz continued to face pushback online, including criticism that he was using a person of color in his life to make a political point.

But friends and supporters of Gaetz, as well as political opponents, have since stepped up in his defense, saying he has been a role model and mentor for his son for years. Some said that, although not public, Gaetz's role in his son's life had been known within DC and Florida political circles.

"He has been an outstanding role model & mentor for Nestor and anyone that served with Matt knows this great kid," wrote Jose Felix Diaz, a former Florida state legislator.

He added that Gaetz had met Nestor while dating his sister and "stepped up" after the boy lost his mother.

Gaetz's office didn't immediately respond to questions if that was accurate, but the representative did retweet Diaz's comment.

I am seeing so many hateful comments about Matt Gaetz & Nestor. When that kid lost his mom, Matt was dating his sister and he stepped up. Plain and simple. He has been an outstanding role model & mentor for Nestor and anyone that served with Matt knows this great kid 🇨🇺🇺🇸

We met both Nestor & his sister, May, a few years ago during a @FSUFootball game. The family has a remarkable story. I said then that @MattGaetz deserved for the world to know how he stepped up but he didnt want that. The attacks on Matt & Nestor are the very worst of politics. https://t.co/1uVhsCOwod

Former representative Katie Hill, a California Democrat, also defended Gaetz, saying that he "talks about Nestor more than anything, has done so much for his son & is truly a proud dad."

Jeremy Branch, a Democrat and former commissioner of Jackson County in Florida, also defended Gaetz, saying he treated Nestor as a son and "continued to be a father to him."

Also he was never “hiding” his son. He was trying to protect him from the crap that comes from being a politician’s kid, esp after what Nestor had been through, esp in this political climate. Now that Nestor is grown he’s made his own choice to enter the spotlight. Good for them.

Everyone needs to chill out. Matt was seeing Nestor’s sister when he came from Cuba. Matt treated Nestor as a son and continued to be a father to him. If you know me you know I’m a dyed in the wool Democrat, but the Congressman has done an honorable thing being there for Nestor. https://t.co/UYU7EaKrNu

The representative's sister, Erin Gaetz, went on to post several pictures of the two over the years, including the lawmaker dressed as Santa Claus hugging Nestor and the entire family crowding around the Gaetzes' mother for a kiss.

Christmas Eve 2013. Nestor and Rep. Santa Claus (R-North Pole).

“The only picture she could find.” https://t.co/JxA6HOSz68

Here’s one of my favorite family photos from a few Easters ago. My dad, Matt and Nestor planting a smooch on my mama!

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