UVA professor responds to Garrett ethics report

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- The House Committee on Ethics announced Wednesday it will not pursue any action against Fifth District Congressman Tom Garrett.

In a release, the committee says there is ample evidence the first term Republican misused members of his staff for personal tasks. However, since Garrett will no longer be a member of Congress after Jan. 3, the committee has no jurisdiction. Additionally, since none of the matters appear to be criminal, there will likely be no charges.

University of Virginia School of Law professor and election law expert Michael Gilbert said he is baffled by the violations.

"Garret himself is a lawyer," Gilbert said. "It's not like he's unfamiliar with law generally. The whole thing is a mystery."

In the report, Garrett admitted to drinking while holding radio town halls, and a witness saw him drink before going to vote in the House.

Some of the charges include using staffers to run personal errands, like trips to the store with Garrett's wife, caring for the family dog, or taking care of his personal vehicle.

"It feels like a pretty flagrant violation," Gilbert said. "Some of the behavior continued again even after a House ethics lawyer briefed Garrett on the rules."

Garrett has said that many of the allegations are falsehoods.

You can read the entire report from the committee by clicking on the link in the Related Links box.

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