Arrested in 2208; elected in 2010.
Just after Michael Dunn was found not guilty of murdering 17-year-old Jordan Davis in Florida, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz told CNN that the Stand Your Ground law, which he strongly supports, actually benefits African-Americans:
“I don’t think anyone is going to nominate George Zimmerman or Michael Dunn for person of the year,” Gaetz explained to CNN host Carol Costello. “But I think, overall, the Stand Your Ground law has worked for the state of Florida. If you look at the five years preceding Stand Your Ground’s passage, the murder rate was on the rise Florida every year. Since we passed Stand Your Ground, the murder rate had declined every year.”
Gaetz added that African-Americans were benefiting from the law because they “have asserted the Stand Your Ground defense more than any other racial or ethnic group. And, by volume, African-Americans have been more successful at asserting the Stand Your Ground defense than any other group. I’m of the belief that if someone’s attacked, they shouldn’t have the duty to retreat.”
Gaetz provides no numbers to back his claims of course, he's just a big fan of the law, which before a review following the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, famously stated that he wouldn't support "changing one damn comma" in the law. How's that for an impartial review?
Never mind that actual numbers say that whites killing blacks were more likely to get off on "justifiable homicide" than the other way around in states with Stand Your Ground laws.
Never mind that provoking an attack and then asserting SYG to kill said attacker isn't the same thing.
Never mind that Florida sentenced African American Marissa Alexander 20 years in prison just for firing a warning shot to scare off her husband during an altercation.
It's easy to defend a bad law when you happen to be one of the privileged few in the Florida legislature charged with writing and reviewing the laws.
Take another bill that just passed in committee. It would keep mugshots of people who are charged with crimes off the Internet until they are convicted. Gaetz is a big supporter of that one too, but then why wouldn't he be? If that had been the law when he was arrested for DUI in 2008, his own mugshot wouldn't have been available to the public, and he wouldn't have felt the need to bring it up in the first place while pushing the legislation:
"I'm of the view that that is part of who I am," said the Fort Walton Beach Republican, who in 2016 will seek the seat now held by his father, Senate President Don Gaetz. "I made bad decisions that resulted in an arrest, and that is sort of something that we all live with."
He may well live with his bad decisions, but he never lived the consequences. Well, unless you count that public mugshot:
But as it turns out, notoriety is about the worst consequence Gaetz, now 31, has faced from the DUI arrest.
He didn't have his license suspended for a year when he refused the breath test — as Florida law dictates. And he didn't have that refusal used against him in a criminal proceeding. Charges against Gaetz were dismissed after events that included, among other things, the forced resignation of the arresting officer.
Why, it's almost as if you can get away with anything as long as you're an elected official in Florida who can write the laws that will make it even easier for others to do so in the future. Maybe even for other members of your own family!
Being an elected official in Florida truly has privileges.
I met with his father, Don Gaetz, at a "meet & greet" at a local church in my neighborhood. No town hall...just a closed-door face to face discussion. George W Bush was President at the time. Needless to say, I'm not impressed by either of them. After losing the presidency of UWF (thank God), Don Gaetz now writes guest columns for the PNJ. The last one was a doozie...all about "fake news".
I'm resurrecting this from 2014 because it has a mug shot, but also because of his bill that plans to completely dissolve the EPA...maybe in some of that effluent from Lake Okeechobee or the sugar plants in the Everglades. Here's a link to that discussion:
Congressman who wants to kill the EPA gets blasted at his town hall
Turns out, people really like clean air and water.