4 legislative candidates in Virginia, including a former congressman, are accused of violence against women
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett was just months into his second year in Congress in 2018 when he announced he would drop his re-election bid to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.
Garrett remained out of the public eye for the next four years until Announce Last November he would run for the Virginia House of Delegates. But his political comeback was marked by allegations of abuse in a bitter divorce. His estranged wife, Flana Sheridan Garrett, accused him of “a long litany of physical and emotional abuse,” including an allegation that he strangled her while she lay on a hotel bed with their infant daughter by her side.
Jarrett, who denies the accusations, is among four candidates State legislative seats In Virginia this year, they were charged with physical violence against women — two during divorce proceedings, one in a pending criminal case and one in decades-old criminal cases that ended in charges being dropped.
One of the four men He lost his bid for re-election to his Senate seat in the primary, but the other three are on the ballot in Tuesday’s high-stakes general election, with control of both the House and Senate in a state with tight political division.
The accusations have drawn mixed but relatively muted reactions from members of the candidates’ parties, though Lisa Sells, president of the Virginia chapter of the National Organization for Women, said voters, Democrats and Republicans alike, should be concerned. She noted that neither candidate has been convicted of a crime, and said that much of the attention in Virginia has focused on partisan politics, where Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate and Republicans narrowly control the House.
“Domestic and sexual violence is not blue, and it is not red,” she said. “The parties are afraid that this will affect the outcome of the two races because the balance of power is very close, so (they) ignore these matters.”
Stephen Farnsworth, a professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington, said partisan politics may have overtaken personal concerns in the fury of the current political moment.
“In the age of Trump, it seems like a lot of misconduct can be tolerated if the person accused of that misconduct is on your caucus,” Farnsworth said.
Garrett, who did not agree to an Associated Press interview request, won the Republican nomination, and with his only challenger in Tuesday’s general election, two write-in candidates, he appears headed for an easy win in the heavily Republican 56th District.
In a more competitive legislative race, Democratic candidate Clinton Jenkins was forced to explain assault and battery charges he faced in the late 1990s and early 2000s — which were ultimately dismissed — after his Republican challenger, Emily Brewer, ran TV ads highlighting the allegations. She calls Jenkins a domestic abuser.
Brewer and Jenkins, who continue to receive money and support from fellow Democrats, are competing in a state Senate district stretching from Hampton Roads to Southside Virginia. Both are current members of the House of Delegates.
Jenkins was charged with misdemeanor assault and battery on a family member, who in 1997 wrote in a criminal complaint that Jenkins slapped her face, squeezed her head and “said he was going to kill me,” court records show.
Jenkins pleaded not guilty and the charge was eventually dropped, records show.
But in 2003, he faced a similar charge. A criminal complaint alleged that he grabbed another female relative by the collar of her jacket and then by the throat.
“The choking continued for 5 to 10 minutes,” the complaint said. This charge was also eventually dismissed after the not guilty plea. A separate criminal complaint dated the same day said that on a different occasion, Jenkins told a relative: “He wanted her to know he would kill her” if he had to.
Jenkins, who did not agree to an interview, posted an ad addressing the allegations generally. It featured his wife and a woman identified as his daughter, who said: “Emily Brewer’s attacks on my father are bold lies.” A spokesman for the Senate Democratic Caucus also called Brewer’s announcement “the most disgusting lie.”
But when asked by TV station WAVY about the 1997 accusations, he replied: “Well, again, I say all families have disagreements and have ups and downs and challenges.”
Another candidate, Republican Del. Matt Faris, a House member since 2012, was accused in March of swerving his SUV into a romantic partner who got out of the car they were riding together after an argument, striking her and striking her. He left her with minor injuries.
Faris, who said the accusations against him were false, is charged with two felony and misdemeanor counts in Alleged hit and run He will face trial in January.
The woman testified that she was bruised and was terrified and worried that Faris would shoot her, Cardinal News reported.
Fares’ attorney, Chuck Felmley, said Fares did not intend to hit the woman, but she hit the SUV and fell. Felmlee said Faris left because the woman was yelling at him.
Knight, who did not file the necessary paperwork to seek the Republican nomination in the district south of Lynchburg, is now running as an independent, though it is unclear how much campaigning he is doing. His campaign donations have dried up since the charges were filed against him, according to public records, and his website and social media presence show no sign of activity.
The House Republican Caucus is backing GOP candidate Eric Zahr in the deep red district.
Allegations of abuse have also surfaced against outgoing state Sen. Joe Morrissey, a Democrat.
Morrissey, a disbarred attorney whose decades in the public spotlight were marked by an unusual degree of scandal, was defeated in the June primary by candidate She focused her campaign On the pledge to protect abortion rights.
Challenger Lashrecse Aird has generally avoided discussing Morrissey’s personal life, even as his estranged wife made accusations that he physically assaulted and emotionally abused her. Morrissey has strongly denied the allegations in multiple interviews with the AP.
Garrett also denies this Allegations Made by his estranged wife, who was Widely covered by Daily progress. She claims in court documents that Garrett pulled her hair, pinned her to the ground, punched her into walls, hit her in the head at least twice, and threatened suicide several times to “exert emotional control” over her. He also denies her claim that he choked her on Mother’s Day 2018, but acknowledged in court documents that he began participating in the Alcoholics Anonymous program weeks later. He accuses his wife of having an uncontrollable temper and claims that she once exploded into a rage and kicked the door while he was “hiding in my older children’s room.”
Jason Seiden, Flana Garrett’s attorney, declined to comment on the divorce battle that began in 2019 and remains unresolved, but said his client denies Tom Garrett’s allegations.
Garrett announced his decision to abandon his 2018 congressional bid just days after Politico published a story in which unidentified former staffers accused him and his wife of ordering employees to perform personal tasks, including walking their dog. Ethics Committee Report It found that Garrett misused staff time to “serve his personal whims.”
A campaign staffer said in an email that Garrett was not available for an interview to discuss his wife’s complaints, his recovery and his return to politics until after the election.
Christopher Smith, the attorney representing Garrett in his divorce, said he would pass on an interview request to Garrett but he did not respond to a follow-up request.
This article originally appeared on apnews.com