On June 14, 2021, two airplanes displaying banners were spotted flying over amusement parks in Orlando, Florida. The messages seen over parts of Walt Disney World Resort and Universal’s Islands of Adventure said, “Cokehead Matt Gaetz / Tried To Drug Test Welfare Recipients.”
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016. Prior to his time in Washington, D.C., he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives.
A Message in the Sky
There’s a pair of banner planes flying around downtown Orlando.
Plane 1: “Coke Head Matt Gaetz”
Plane 2: “Tried To Drug Test Welfare Recipients” pic.twitter.com/Ne5t8Dmeun
— Greg Angel (@NewsGuyGreg) June 14, 2021
A video of the airplanes was available on TikTok:
It’s unclear where exactly the video was recorded, but it appeared to be near the Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
One commenter remarked: “From ‘Joe Rogan is literally 5 foot 3’ to ‘Cokehead Matt Gaetz,’ who’s next?” This referenced an airborne message about Joe Rogan’s height that appeared over Los Angeles two days earlier. We fact-checked the claim, which may have been nothing more than a joke.
Another person mentioned they saw the “Cokehead Matt Gaetz” banners over Disney World. “Yoooo. I saw this shit yesterday at Disney Springs,” they said. “I couldn’t get a pic and I was so mad. Thanks!”
Disney Springs is part of the Walt Disney World Resort experience. However, it is not a theme park. The theme parks have a no-fly zone. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the no-fly zone “bars planes from flying below 3,000 feet within 3 miles of the center of the parks.”
A third person claimed: “And he tweeted a picture of JFK’s assassin on Memorial Day AND THANKED HIM FOR HIS SERVICE LMAO.” This was true.
I was wondering why Lee Harvey Oswald was trending. Looks like @kenklippenstein decided to give some MAGAs a military history quiz on Memorial Day. Naturally, Matt Gaetz failed. Great tribute to the worst Marine in history, @mattgaetz pic.twitter.com/ZVaGnFgb8h
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) May 31, 2021
‘Cokehead Matt Gaetz’
On May 14, 2021, The Daily Beast reported that Gaetz purportedly previously attended a “cocaine-fueled party” with “a paid escort” and an “amateur Instagram model.” This is what the “Cokehead Matt Gaetz” portion of the message that was flown over Disney World appeared to reference.
Previous reporting from Politico also looked at Gaetz’s possible involvement with an underage teenager.
In June 2021, NBC News reported that Gaetz was under investigation. Federal prosecutors were looking into whether he “obstructed justice during a phone call with a witness in a potential sex crimes investigation.”
Smells of desperation, Matt pic.twitter.com/GrL2MoKOqn
— SonnyinSeattle (@SonnyinSeattle_) June 14, 2021
The “Tick Tock Matt Gaetz” banner appeared to reference the investigation.
‘Tried To Drug Test Welfare Recipients’
As for the second part of the Gaetz message that appeared in the skies above Disney World, it’s true that he once sought to drug test welfare recipients.
In 2011, when he was a member of the Florida House of Representatives, he tweeted: “I strongly support drug-testing for welfare recipients. Applying for welfare is voluntary, if you don’t want to get tested don’t apply.”
I strongly support drug-testing for welfare recipients.Applying for
welfare is voluntary,if you don’t want to get tested don’t
— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) March 24, 2011
Four months later, the state of Florida enacted a law that required drug testing for people seeking public assistance.
In sum, banners about “Cokehead Matt Gaetz” were flown over Disney World and other amusement parks in June 2021. They were intended as a jab at the congressman following reporting about purported cocaine use.