A Virginia congressman announced Monday that he will end his bid for re-election this year due to his struggle with alcoholism.
Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.) revealed that he was an alcoholic and needed to focus on his recovery and his family in an emotional video statement, which The Washington Post published.
Garrett is the 48th House Republican elected in 2016 who is not running for re-election this year, according to the House Press Gallery. (Many are retiring, although others are running for different offices, and a few left Congress to join the Trump administration.)
“This is because life is about priorities and values, and for the most part, I am proud of mine,” said Garrett, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
“The tragedy is any person ― Republican, Democrat or independent ― who has known me for any period of time knows two things: I am a good man and I am an alcoholic,” he said.
He called his announcement “the hardest statement I have ever publicly made, by far.”
Last Thursday, Garrett had insisted that he was still seeking re-election. “I will tell you that there is no way in heck that I’m not going to be back here in 2019 as a member of the Congress,” he told reporters.
Last Friday, citing unnamed former staffers, Politico reported the congressman and his wife regularly requested that his staff and interns do personal tasks, including picking up groceries, taking care of the couple’s dog in the office, cleaning up after the dog, and chauffeuring their daughters. The Washington Post also spoke to former employees who similarly said that staffers were asked to handle personal tasks.
The House ethics manual prohibits lawmakers from asking staff members to do personal chores outside of official congressional work.
Politico also reported that Garrett’s chief of staff, Jimmy Keady, had resigned.
In Monday’s video, Garrett briefly mentioned the reports about his former staffers: “The recent attacks on my family and myself were a series of half-truths and whole lies, driven more by Republicans than Democrats. … These attacks are not true and I can prove that.”
Garrett was running for re-election against Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a former “60 Minutes” producer whose campaign had raised $715,475 more than Garrett’s, according to the Post.