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Old 07-20-2007, 05:36 PM  
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Romney campaign staffers used fake law enforcement badges

from Boston Herald

In an apparent violation of the law, a controversial aide to ex-Gov. Mitt Romney created phony law enforcement badges that he and other staffers used on the campaign trail to strong-arm reporters, avoid paying tolls and trick security guards into giving them immediate access to campaign venues, sources told the Herald.

The bogus badges were part of the bizarre security tactics allegedly employed by Jay Garrity, the director of operations for Romney who is under investigation for impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states. Garrity is on a leave of absence from the campaign while the probe is ongoing.

A campaign source said Garrity directed underlings on Romney’s presidential staff to use the badges at events nationwide to create an image of security and to ensure that the governor’s events went smoothly.

“They (the aides) knew the badges were fake and probably illegal,” said a presidential campaign source who asked for anonymity because the story could damage the individual’s career. “But they went along with it because Jay (Garrity) pushed it on them.”

A spokesman for Romney issued an e-mailed statement. “No one on the Mitt Romney for President campaign is authorized to use a badge, nor has the campaign provided anyone with a badge,” the statement reads. “Jay Garrity is not working on the campaign because he continues to be on a leave of absence.”

Two additional sources confirmed that the badges - described as bright silver plates with a state seal attached - were first created and used by Garrity while Romney was still governor. Under state law, it is illegal to use a badge without authority, an offense that carries a fine of not more than $50.

A spokeswoman for Garrity referred all questions to the Romney campaign.

The campaign source said the badges were used extensively by Garrity and staffers on Romney’s advance team, which is responsible for coordinating events for his presidential campaign.

Sometimes, the source said, a staffer would use a badge for crowd control to restrict access to Romney. Other times, they were flashed to gain quick access to emergency exits and back hallways at campaign venues. In at least one instance, a staffer used a badge to go through a Massachusetts Turnpike toll booth without paying, the source said.

In addition to Garrity, other aides who used the badges included advance staffers Mark Glanville and William Ritter, the source said.

Garrity remains under investigation by the Suffolk District
Attorney’s Office for allegedly impersonating a law enforcement officer in a May 13 phone call to a Wilmington plumbing company. During the phone call, Garrity allegedly referred to himself as “Trooper Garrity” and told the plumbing company its driver was operating erratically. A spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said the investigation remains “open and active.”
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