Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.) announced today that he struggles with alcohol and won’t be running for reelection in November. Garret may have had little choice the increasing scandal arising due to his handling of his congressional office and staff in particular.
The 46-year-old Garrett was the subject of a POLITICO report on Friday which alleged that he and his wife, Flanna, used official staff to run errands and take care of their dog. In a statement he released today, Garret called the report “a series of half-truths and whole lies.”
“The recent attacks on my family are a series of half-truths and whole lies,” he said, seeming to hold back tears. “But there’s one area where I haven’t been honest: The tragedy is that any person Republican, Democrat or independent who’s known me for period of time and has any integrity knows two things: I am a good man and I am an alcoholic.“
I am certainly never going to criticize someone for alcoholism, or mock the disease or need for treatment. I am having trouble understanding how alcoholism fits within the description of the troubles within the office. Seeking treatment for alcoholism should not be considered grounds for stepping down from office, in my opinion. To me, that means there is more going on.
I suspect that the problems and decision to not run again relate much more to the treatment of staff:
Garrett’s announcement came two days after POLITICO detailed allegations from four former staffers that Garrett and his wife had turned them into his part-time gofers. They were ordered to pick up groceries, clothing — even the poop of Sophie, the couple’s Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix and a fixture in the congressman’s Capitol Hill office.
Garret was in his first term and did not have a huge contingent of loyalists rushing to his defense. Concerns did arise due to some representatives having seen him drinking in his office in the last few days.
Again, alcoholism is a condition in which I would fully support him getting treatment, and not hold it against him politically at all. I just have a ton of trouble seeing how alcoholism impacts the belief that staff should be picking-up groceries, especially when one’s spouse is assigning some of the same errands.
Regardless, Republicans will be defending yet another open seat in Virginia, and it is awfully late in the game for them to find a strong replacement candidate.