Rep. Tom Garrett Is Our Duke Of The Week

TPM Illustration. Photo by Getty Images/ Tom Williams
May 26, 2018 9:00 a.m.

For Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA), it’s been a week of heartbreak.

Tuesday evening, the freshman representative had a dramatic breakup with his chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, sparking rumors that the verklempt congressman would drop his reelection bid and force local GOP officials to scramble to find a quality replacement.

His uninspiring fundraising had already made him a thorn in the party leaders’ collective side as his safely conservative district slid into competition with Democratic candidate journalist Leslie Cockburn’s robust challenge.

In the sober light of Thursday afternoon, Garrett tried to right Tuesday’s wrongs. He reportedly went to Keady and begged for him back, only to be met with rejection. The men split because Keady objected to what sources described to Politico as Garrett’s “misuse of official resources.”

The chief of staff-less Garrett then gave a rambling and, at times, emotional press conference to dispel the resignation rumors and to vent about how “frustrating” it is to serve in the people’s chamber.

Pacing and gesticulating with handwritten notes, Garrett took listeners on a wild ride, invoking Moses, King David, and Thomas Jefferson before assuring the assembled reporters that he is a well-funded and solid candidate.

“God’s got a plan, Tom works hard,” he reeled off to conclude his remarks in the third person.

God’s plan came with a hearty serving of embarrassment Friday, as Garrett’s pain from an on-again off-again chief of staff was compounded by a report detailing accusations by four former staffers who claimed that Garrett and his wife, Flanna, forced them to clean up their dog’s poop, chauffeur their kids from Virginia to D.C., and pick up backup outfits when Garrett got schmutz on his tie.

They chauffeured the dog too: Sophie, the Garretts’ Jack Russell-Pomeranian mix, would reportedly hang out in the House office being so quiet and well-behaved that her owners sometimes forgot about her, forcing staffers to transport her home (after Lysoling any unfortunate accidents out of the rug).

Aides had to carve out time for this ride around schlepping Garrett’s daughters from his first marriage from their home in Scottsville, Virginia to the nation’s capital, a quick three-hour jaunt one way.

The ex-aides said that the calls came early and often, and that interns were often roped into the servitude, somehow lowering the bar for Congress’s most mistreated underclass.

Unsurprisingly, staffers left in hordes, making Garrett’s office the fourth most abandoned of over 400 House offices.

For being the most likely to whine about how hard Congress is while an intern jogs behind with a doggy bag, Tom Garrett is our Duke of the Week.

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: