Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz—who is reportedly facing a Justice Department investigation into whether he had a sexual relationship with a minor—countered this week, tweeting Tuesday: “[M]y family and I have been victims of an organized criminal extortion involving a former DOJ official seeking $25 million while threatening to smear my name.”
If that sounds like a lot of money, that’s because it is. But the Gaetz family, prominent in Florida politics, has it. Forbes estimates that Gaetz and his parents are worth about $30 million, based on financial disclosures filed with the state of Florida and the United States House of Representatives.
Matt Gaetz reported assets of just $235,000 to $625,000 on his most recent Congressional disclosure form, which requires representatives to list most, but not all, of their holdings. That makes him wealthy enough, but his parents, Don and Victoria Gaetz, are among the nation’s top 1% of ultra-high net worth individuals. Don, who sits on the board of Florida nonprofit Triumph Gulf Coast, reported that the couple’s net worth was $29.6 million as of June 2020, according to a document he submitted to the state’s ethics commission. They own a portfolio of publicly-traded stocks, 13 pieces of real estate, seven-figure stakes in three private companies, as well as $375,000 worth of “antiques, imported rugs, furniture, books” and a 2013 Mercedes-Benz S550.
Before the elder Gaetz, 73, moved into politics, he was a successful businessman who started his own company. After graduating from Concordia College in Minnesota, he worked as a hospital administrator in Wisconsin and Florida. In 1983, he cofounded hospice provider Vitas Healthcare with an ordained minister and registered nurse, and helped build it over the next two decades. In 2004, the company—touted as “the nation’s largest provider of hospice services for patients with severe, life-limiting illnesses,” with more than 6,000 employees—was bought by Cincinnati plumbing business Roto-Rooter for $406 million.
By then, Don Gaetz was also serving as the superintendent of Florida’s Okaloosa county school district. Two years later, he won election to the Florida state legislature and became the state senate president in 2012, a position he held until 2014.
Gaetz was an established name in panhandle politics when his son Matt began his ascent in a 2010 special election for a seat in the state house. Just 27 years old and three years removed from law school at William & Mary, his campaign raised $479,000, including support from Jeb Bush, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and more than $100,000 from him and his family. He narrowly won the Republican primary against competitors with far less funding.
Since his election to the U.S. House in 2016, Gaetz has veered away from the Republican establishment that supported his first run and become a full-throated Donald Trump supporter who voted against certifying the 2020 election results on the day of the January 6 Capitol riot.
While Don Gaetz is now out of the Florida state legislature, he currently serves as an appointed board member of a nonprofit set up to oversee the distribution of funds meant for Florida counties affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. That role requires him to file a financial disclosure form with the state of Florida listing his assets and liabilities in great detail.
The elder Gaetz has the biggest chunk of his net worth in real estate investments, according to his disclosure. In total, he claims that his properties, including six coastal homes on Florida’s panhandle, an apartment in New York City, lots in four states and his stake in a Pensacola office building, are worth $14.6 million based on “realtor estimates,” according to the disclosure.
He also has $6.8 million in various cash accounts, and owns stakes in three privately-held companies worth $4.6 million in total. At least two of the businesses operate in the senior home care industry, according to his disclosure. One of those, called CareGivers Inc., received a PPP loan in 2020 for between $350,000 and $1 million.
He also owns stock in roughly 100 companies, plus holdings in investment funds and retirement accounts, worth almost $3 million in all, per his disclosure. His portfolio includes shares of companies such as Uber, Raytheon, Coca-Cola and Eli Lilly.
He reports just $15,500 in liabilities, which he notes is a credit card balance. The disclosure also requires filers to disclose their annual income. Gaetz reported that he earned $2.1 million in 2019, including a $1.2 million from an insurance claim Progressive tied to Hurricane Michael.
As for the younger Gaetz, it seems that not much of his parents’ money has been passed down to the Congressman yet. On his latest disclosure, which covers assets he had in 2019, he lists ownership of several undeveloped lots in Florida worth between $19,000 and $110,000 as well as retirement accounts worth between $65,000 and $150,000. One asset the Congressman does have in common with his father: his single largest holding, a $100,000 to $250,000 stake in CareGivers Inc.