Photo by Gage Skidmore

The current crisis Matt Gaetz finds himself in involves a lot of unanswered questions. It’s not prudent to “take a side” when you don’t know all the details. Only Matt Gaetz truly knows if he did anything illegal. We should let that play out and until any evidence is produced otherwise, Congressman Gaetz deserves to be held to the standard of the American legal system: he must be assumed innocent until proven guilty. I am tired of reading stories from the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN that cite anonymous sources. Surely, those news outlets wouldn’t care so much to file reports with wild allegations based on anonymous sources if Rep. Gaetz was a Democrat. 

With this being said, the current story of what Matt Gaetz is going through does provide some lessons for all of us, but most especially two kinds of people: those in any leadership role anywhere and those who identify as Republicans. For the latter, the lesson should be clear: The Left will come for you, whether you are innocent or not. They are always ready to do so given the right opportunity. 

Every journalist covering this story has to ask themselves: do I want the allegations against Matt Gaetz to be true? Or do I want the truth no matter what? Those journalists should put one attribute ahead of all else: the humility for their reporting to be subservient to the truth and nothing but the truth.

Rep. Gaetz is a self-professed “firebrand” (he even has a book with that title). In fact, that’s part of why I have liked him so much, for so long. I have observed too many spineless politicians and especially spineless Republicans. Matt is just a few years younger than me and is an outspoken conservative who is willing to fight when others aren’t. We need more warriors like Matt Gaetz.

I have observed Matt since his early days as a state legislator when I lived in Tallahassee and worked for a public policy organization, The James Madison Institute. Back then, Matt was already making waves as a principled, outspoken conservative. In other ways, Matt, being a young guy in his 20s, also didn’t shy away from the party scene – which isn’t hard to find in Tallahassee. Being a young, charismatic lawmaker, he certainly attracted a good time, as he has admitted time and again. 

On one occasion, I remember seeing Matt walking out of a bar, by himself, pretty hammered. I said hello and we chatted for a moment, and then we moved on. I remember thinking: man, there’s nothing particularly wrong about a guy in his late 20s enjoying the bar scene in Tallahassee (guilty as charged) but I’m not sure I’d do that if I were a state lawmaker. 

You see, we Americans have an impression that if someone is in a leadership position, they must somehow live up to a higher standard. After all, the people’s business is in their hands. How dare they enjoy themselves or indulge a little too much? Even I was guilty, in that moment, for passing quiet judgment on Matt Gaetz (and perhaps repeating that judgment publicly here – truth be told, if I felt like I was letting out some big secret, I wouldn’t do so). 

Over the years, I have heard plenty of rumors of Matt’s wild side, but every time I’ve personally encountered him has been in a professional setting where he has been a professional. Even on another occasion when I saw him at a bar, he was being a “celebrity bartender” to help raise funds for a charity that supported rescue dogs. He was a “bartender” for a few hours alongside a Democrat colleague in a friendly “red dog, blue dog” competition. And he was pretty laid back that day. Not exactly a wild man moment. 

Photos courtesy of Francisco Gonzalez

The last time Matt and I chatted for any length of time were at a Charlie Kirk book signing in West Palm Beach in March 2020. Matt was not advertised to be there, but I’m sure he knew it would be a great crowd to mix and mingle with. He spent some time asking me some serious policy questions and surveying my opinion on a few matters. He seemed pretty serious then.

Just a few months ago, I started hearing chatter about Matt Gaetz’s close relationship with Joel Greenberg, as well as some of Matt’s other escapades. Nothing illegal, but what I heard alarmed me. For someone so boldly and outspokenly conservative – someone so brazen – I believe even if Matt had engaged in nothing but clean living, he already had a target on his back. That’s why I like him so much. He is willing to be our conservative warrior. There are few people who will be so bold and courageous. 

But if what I was now hearing was true – and it was coming from reputable sources who have every reason to be as big a fan of Matt’s as I was – then that told me that Matt might have been too careless, too lacking of judgment, and, well, stupid. Matt has never struck me as stupid. Never. 

But careless? Anyone can be careless. Cocky? Sure, he can definitely be described that way. And when you are in such a leadership position like him – everywhere you go you are greeted by adoring fans, or even people like me, who tell him to “keep up the fight.” We supporters of people like him want to be encouraging, but we also – accidentally, perhaps – put those people on a pedestal. In their own mind, they become larger than life. We are all human. We all have faults and failings. But leaders, whether in business, politics, or even religion – are constantly told how great they are. They start believing they are not only great but invincible. They start falling for the sin that caused the devil to fall: PRIDE.

No one is invincible. This is why we all need peers to hold us accountable. 

And this is the lesson we can all learn from the current crisis Matt Gaetz finds himself in. Could he have been careless and allowed his enemies to use his – what could be legal, yet reckless – behavior against him? Could he have been fooled this long by a man as crooked as Joel Greenberg? Others certainly were. Was Matt more closely aligned to Greenberg than others? Or is he simply the “highest level” friend that Greenberg associated with and now finding himself guilty by association by a media that has been waiting to pounce on him? 

There are lots of questions here. It is unclear whether all the true answers will emerge. Partly, that’s because Matt, as a firebrand, has created a number of political enemies. And if you are an enemy of the Left, the establishment Right, or the legacy media, then you will always be a target. When you put yourself in harm’s way with reckless personal behavior or associating with bad characters, you only feed your enemy the blood they were already thirsting for. 

Whether or not Matt Gaetz is guilty of an actual crime is not the point of this article. The point is: if you find yourself in a leadership position, you need to double down on your personal accountability. Surround yourself with friends you can trust – and not with “yes” men. Seek humility every day. Have mentors. Make friends in leadership positions who also seek to be people of high character – and who you can confide in when you have no one else who can possibly understand your challenges. It’s unclear to me whether Matt has had these things in place or not. It’s not easy as you are climbing into the national spotlight so quickly. And unless someone has given you a book like Why Great Men Fall by Wayde Goodall, it’s easy to be unprepared for the challenge success brings.

If you are a Republican and in a political position, double down at least twice as much as any other leader should – for when things go wrong – even by appearance – you have no friends in the establishment or in the media. Just ask Matt Gaetz. I hope he has a dog – and a good lawyer. But mostly, I hope through this crisis, he finds the most important thing we all need to search for every day: humility. And as for all journalists covering this saga or considering wading into it — I hope they find humility too.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Francisco Gonzalez is founder and CEO of Fearless Journeys and host of the Agents of Innovation podcast, where he interviews entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and artists. He is also visiting professor at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala City, teaching courses on entrepreneurship and innovation. He was previously the director of philanthropy for National Review Institute. He serves on the boards of The Philadelphia Society, AMIkids Orlando, and on the Advisory Council for Turning Point USA.


  1. Matt Is reputable. Simple fact. Why is Eric Swalwell still in a national security Intel Committee when he is clearly associated with Chinese spies??? Oh thats right he is a democrat a swamp rat thats why.

  2. Until Schumer, Schiff,Al Green among a few are persecuted, then I have a serious issue with believing Matt Gaetz is guilty. Schumer molested his step daughter’s 16 year old friend and that friend committed suicide. Until the demonrats are held to the same standards forget it. I am fed up with this adolescent behavior from the demonrats. Lets check their backgrounds and esp Epstein Island

  3. ya es asqueroso lo que ocurre con los politicos en esta pais, ya las mentiras van y vienen, como si los electores fueramos anormales, imbéciles o de otrro planeta, estoy de acuerdo que mientras no se demuestree lo contrario son “INOCENTES”, yo soy Republicano, hasta ahora, son muy consevador y no soporto las mentiras, ya que se demuestre si lo hizo o no , y si lo hizo que pague las consecuencias de la manera mas dura, si la condena es de 1 o 10, que le den 10, primero por lo mal que hizo y segundo por engañar a todos los votantes y al pueblo, pero, que suceda lo mismo con todos los que andan en problemas, la HIlary, el obama, el Hunter Biden y el Señor Biden, y si son CULPABLES, JUSTICIA con ellos, como la harian conmigo si cometo una felonía, basta ya de tapar políticos CORRUPTOS, el que la hace, que la pague, sea quien sea.

  4. Good article….I hope Matt weathers this storm….I can’t believe he did anything “illegal” but we can all be “careless” and maybe not use the best judgement at times…and certainly for him…the Dems are just laying for him because he is a thorn in their side and so outspoken….which is what I like about him. And so much of the media is in the tank for them….and just regurgitates over and over their talking points… it’s a hard battle to fight….but if there is one who has the grit to do it…it’s Matt.

  5. I appreciate the article. I was thinking some of the same things myself..but it’s good to hear them from others. I hope Matt can prove he hasn’t done anything illegal because we know the wolves will not stop; however, we KNOW Hunter Biden did things illegal (even to lying on a 4473 gun form) and will go unpunished and we KNOW Stalwell was and will go unpunished. That doesn’t mean anyone should go UNpunished if they deserve it, but doggonit….it’s getting to a point that we have no idea if even the “evidence” has been made up by the authorities. The time for trusting your countries legal system has passed. I feel certain Matt will do the right thing at this point. Thanks again for the article.

  6. The left had to do something to stop this ‘firebrand’. So they created another ‘Russia Collusion’ lie out of nothing – and although disproved, they still tout the Russian collusion story and now apply it to others as well. They will continued to do this for anyone that is rolling like a steam locomotive against them – the left is the party of magicians that will put our children and grandchildren in debt and turmoil for generations – and yet they will still vote for the liars and thieves that will negatively control their lives until America falls and thereafter.

  7. Your article hits the nail on the head, don’t put yourself in compromising positions even if your intentions are innocent. The opposition is always ready to pounce.

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