What is Don Gaetz's net worth? Here's how Florida State senator became a millionaire and owned 6 houses
Gaetz's massive fortune is built on the sale of one company, allowing him to become the richest lawmaker in Florida
Florida State Senator Donald Gaetz, often dubbed "Baby Gaetz", is a wealthy man. In 2015, he was the richest state lawmaker in Florida. Over half of the lawmakers in the state are worth a few million, and it's no surprise Gaetz is one of them. Since stepping down from office, Gaetz's net worth hasn't declined, but only shot up.
Donald, who aptly shares a first name with former President Donald Trump, was instrumental in his son, Matt Gaetz's rise to become Trump's favorite. The senior Gaetz's deep pockets allowed him to build a huge network and a net worth, giving Matt the stage he needed to become the person he is today.
Donald Gaetz has now been roped into his son's sex trafficking scandal, whose implications we don't fully understand yet. Matt said his father was wearing a wire to help the FBI catch the extortionists. We don't know how true that claim is, as there has been no official statement from the FBI or the Department of Justice (DoJ). In the meantime, we decided to look into Donald Gaetz and see how he amassed his fortune.
The Donald Gaetz story
Donald Jay Gaetz was born in 1948 to Olive Knutson and Jerry Gaetz. Perhaps he was always destined for politics since Jerry too was a career politician. Jerry Gaetz served as the Mayor of Rugby, North Dakota and ran (unsuccessfully) for Lieutenant Governor of the state. At 16, Donald saw his father die of a heart attack on live TV when Jerry was at the North Dakota Republican Party state convention.
Following the completion of his schooling, Donald went to the Evangelical Lutheran-affiliated Concordia College in Minnesota. He then went to Troy State University for a Masters' in Public Administration. He then moved to Florida, where he first worked as a hospital administrator. In 1983, he founded VITAS Healthcare. After a stint at the Okaloosa County School Board, Donald ran successfully for the State Senate in 2006. He remained in office till 2016, even becoming the President of the Florida Senate from 2012 to 2014.
How did a hospital administrator-turned-senator become a millionaire?
Don Gaetz's entire fortune has everything to do with VITAS.
The company was initially set up as a non-profit that successfully lobbied Congress to allow Medicare and Medicaid to cover its services. With the help of public money, the non-profit turned to a for-profit corporation. Within a few years, the company was sold off for $400 million, giving Gaetz the cash he needed.
What is Donald Gaetz's net worth?
It's unclear how much Gaetz made from the sale of VITAS, but he clearly made a lot. When he ran for the State Senate in 2006, his net worth was reportedly $25 million. His 2014 disclosure form is still publicly available and lists his net worth as around $26 million. How did that happen? Gaetz's value comes from six residences, including one in New York City. His Natchez Street, Seaside residence was valued at $1.7 million, and his Tupelo Street residence at $1.1 million. His West Beach drive residence in Panama City is worth a cool $2.2 million according to the form.
Gaetz also had half a million worth of personal effects, including antiques, imported rugs and furniture. It's not clear if this was for just one home, or all six. He also owned 3 cars - a 2001 BMW, 2004 GMC Yukon and 2003 Mercedes 450SL. Put together, in 2014 all his assets were worth $26,091,730. That has only grown since. He is now reportedly worth $30 million according to Celebrity Net Worth. Since he is no longer required to file financial disclosures, we can't verify if that is accurate.
All that money and fame allowed Donald's son Matt to get his start in politics. Many of those who backed Donald donated to Matt's first run for a State House seat. Matt also benefits from endorsements from Donald's friends, including former Governor Jeb Bush. In 2016, Matt's financial disclosures put his net worth at just under half a million, with most of it tied to real estate. Yet somehow, he managed to add $100,000 to his own campaign, and another $100,000 months later. How was that possible?
Mother Jones managed to link the sale of several of Matt's properties to a company called Treveron, which they report is owned by Donald. Matt was listed as an executive at the company till 2019. Super-PACs for Gaetz's run for the House have also reportedly received donations from Donald's companies. With the money going around and around, it's probably safe to assume Donald is worth a bit more than $30 million.