If Mitt Romney had a penchant in his youth for masquerading as a state police officer — and there is reason to believe he did — then he seems to have attracted staffers with that same peculiar fantasy over the years. During the summer of 2007, months before the general public paid much attention to the Republican presidential candidates, Romney’s 2008 campaign stumbled into a scandal that led to the resignation of a top staffer accused of impersonating a state trooper, and allegations of similar misconduct by at least two others.
A former gubernatorial aide to Romney at the Massachusetts state house who served as his “body man” in the early stages of the 2008 primary campaign, Jay Garrity provoked several reporters with thuggish behavior that led to investigations of his conduct in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. New York Times reporter Mark Leibovich accused Garrity of waving his car over and ordering him to “veer off” from a campaign motorcade, claiming that he had “run” the license plate of Leibovich’s car.
Then the Boston Globe reported that Garrity was under investigation by the Massachusetts state police after someone identifying himself as “Trooper Garrity” had called a local plumbing company to complain about the driver of the firm’s van. As these charges unfolded, the Boston Herald (a Republican-leaning daily) revealed that Garrity had sported a fake badge and distributed others to Gov. Romney’s staff, which they used to pass police lines and — at least once — to avoid paying a toll.
Three years earlier, Garrity had been fined by Boston police who found flashing red and blue lights, multiple police radios, a siren plus public address system, and a police baton emblazoned with the Connecticut state seal in his illegally parked car, which they discovered downtown in the early morning hours on St. Patrick’s Day. On that occasion, Garrity paid “hundreds of dollars” in fines and the incident passed.
After prosecutors in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire announced that they were probing the aide’s conduct, he resigned from the Romney campaign in June 2007 — never to be heard from again in politics, although he was eventually cleared of criminal charges. Evidently he hadn’t really called in Leibovich’s plate numbers, as a state police officer might have done, which would have been unlawful, but had only pretended to do so.