Fact Check

Did NJ Gov. Call Rep. Matt Gaetz 'Matt Putz'?

The politicians traded a few barbs after word got out about a maskless gathering of young Republicans in December 2020.

Published Dec 5, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 17: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) delivers remarks during the House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 7120, the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020," on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. The bill addresses police reforms in the United States and includes provisions to curb police misconduct and the use of excessive force. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images) (Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
Image Via Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images
Claim:
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy called Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz the name "Matt Putz" and a "fool."

Origin

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 "Matt Putz" moment was posted on Twitter:

That video was also retweeted by the account for @GovMurphy:

Murphy's account also tweeted the name "Matt Putz":

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.

Jordan Liles is a Snopes reporter with expertise in investigating misinformation, inauthentic social media activity, and scams.

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