So this weekend, I was reading the newspaper. I stumbled across this NYT article about Mitt Romney which gave me the giggles. Until I came to this weird paragraph:
He travels with an entourage that includes two or three “operations” guys who serve as advance men and a security detail. (Between stops in New Hampshire, this reporter found himself trailing the former governor’s S.U.V. on a back road, only to be led to the shoulder and instructed to “veer off” by a man wearing an earpiece who emerged from Mr. Romney’s car. “We ran your license plate,” he told the reporter, and explained that no one was permitted to follow Mr. Romney’s vehicle.)
Well, at first I thought that this was normal because Romney had Secret Service. But then I realized he didn’t and I drilled down a little. Like seemingly everything about Romney, this story gets weirder when you look under the hood.
It turns out that Romney maintained as governor an Office of Operations that was sort of informal secret service for the governor. Here’s a description of his operation from a 2005 Boston Herald article:
Some office staff, who all wear LXX pins, fashion themselves as U.S. Secret Service agents, referring to Romney in their earpieces and audio-equipped wrist pieces as "70" – similar to the way the Secret Service agents identify President Bush as "43" because he is the 43rd president.
Nice. Romney has his own goons. Chief Goon is a guy by the name of Jay Garrity. Jay got his own story in the paper when it turned out that he had a bunch of illegal police equipment … while working for the governor. From a March 2004 Herald article:
A top aide to Gov. Mitt Romney was cited last week for tooling around with illegal police equipment in his private car – from lights and sirens to batons and heavily tinted windows.
Romney’s director of operations, Jay A. Garrity, had parked the car illegally in the North End and police ordered it towed.
Police discovered a set of red-and-blue flashing lights hidden in the grill – equipment for which Garrity has no permit.
Cops also found a siren and public address system, multiple police radios, strobe lights on the wheels, a police baton and a metal plate with a photo of a state police patch that said “official business.”
“Apparently this kid’s a wannabe cop,” said one source familiar with the situation.
The Boston Globe from the same day added:
Police found Garrity’s car illegally parked at around 4 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day in the North End – with the keys in the ignition, the report said. Police said they discovered equipment that is off limits to civilians without a special state permit.
According to the police report, Garrity’s car had red and blue lights mounted in the grill, a siren and PA system, strobe lights, and a baton "with the state seal of Connecticut," the report said.
I always leave keys in the ignition of my souped-up car with illegal police equipment.
Now I don’t even know what to make of this. It sounds like this wannabe cop is a wannabe Secret Service officer. Or maybe he wants to be Howard Hunt, of Nixon Plumber fame. And Romney is perfectly happy to feed this guys weird delusions, perhaps with Romney’s own?
Turns out the dude is still around. He is mentioned in the "Five Brothers" blog:
Here he is with Governor Bill Weld and Senator Jim Talent (and the ever present Jay Garrity in the background–he deserves his own post some day)
Sure as hell sounds like he deserves his own post. So I gave him one. But I bet they have even better stories than the papers…