On Dec. 4, 2020, the Call to Activism Facebook page posted a meme that claimed New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz “‘Matt Putz’ and a ‘fool’ who should stay out of New Jersey after Gaetz ignored NJ COVID rules.”
It is true that Murphy called Gaetz “Matt Putz” and also referred to him as a “fool.” Video of the moment was posted on Twitter. The “Matt Putz” moment comes at the 1:01 mark:
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) December 4, 2020
That video was also retweeted by the account for @GovMurphy:
Murphy’s account also tweeted the name “Matt Putz”:
It is also beyond the pale that Rep Matt Putz – I mean @RepMattGaetz – would participate in this. What a fool.
Matt – You are not welcome in New Jersey, and frankly I don’t ever want you back in this state. pic.twitter.com/j67x9Z2lAf
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) December 4, 2020
NBC New York reported on the story, writing that it was out of character for the governor to go after another politician in such a manner:
Phil Murphy, New Jersey’s ordinarily mild-mannered governor, had strong words Friday for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and a group of New York City Young Republicans who held a gala event in Jersey City in violation of social distancing rules.
The event was held Thursday night, and photos on social media show a tightly packed crowd — with no masks — surrounding Gaetz, who represents part of the Florida Panhandle and who was apparently a guest of honor at the event.
“That guy in the middle, the tall, handsome fella in the gray suit, that is Representative Matt Putz – oh sorry, Matt Gaetz, and based upon his past performances, it is obvious being a knucklehead is not beyond the pale for him,” Murphy said at a news conference. “He was actually Sarah Palin’s backup act for this event.”
It’s true that Gaetz attended a gala with the New York Young Republican Club, and he was pictured maskless with others at the event. While Gaetz was a guest speaker, the keynote speaker was listed as James O’Keefe of the conservative activist group Project Veritas.
Gaetz published a number of tweets in response to Murphy’s calling him out, including one that said: “You’re gonna regret this tweet when you move to Florida like the rest of New Jersey.” He also said he would be returning to New Jersey in the future.