EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) fires back against ethics claims, weighs in on 5th district race

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- “It stunk. It was hard - it was a tough decision to make," said Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett, who is opening up about his choice to leave Congress.

In our first report, you saw Garrett talk about his battle with alcoholism. Now he’s firing back at claims that he made staffers run personal errands for him.

Washington Correspondent Alana Austin has the exclusive interview from DC.

“I’m not going to fall prey for feeling sorry for myself," said Garrett.

The Rep says he privately thought about leaving office for months before announcing his retirement from politics in May. Garret told us he’s been battling a drinking problem for 20 years.

Now he’s trying to move forward and find new ways to serve the 5th District once he leaves office.

“There’s good left to be done. I want my life to matter," said Garrett.

Garrett is firing back at a report posted on the website Politico in May. It cited unnamed former staffers, who claimed that Garrett and his family forced them to run personal errands, on the taxpayer’s dime. But he denies it.

“My conscience is clear on that one – I can tell you that," said Garrett.

We were not able to independently validate any of the claims made in the Politico report.

“I’ve done nothing either criminally or ethically wrong. This process is farcical," said Garrett. “I’m going to be vindicated.”

In June, the House ethics committee opened an investigation into allegations made against Garrett. But the committee will not disclose those complaints until it completes its investigation. Now Democrats are waging a fierce campaign to flip the seat. But Garrett is confident the GOP will prevail this fall.

“There’s no way the 5th turns," said Garrett.

Garrett is offering support to Republican Congressional hopeful Denver Riggleman, who is running against Democrat Leslie Cockburn. Election day is November 6th.

The non-partisan Cook political report says the race for the 5th Congressional district is competitive and right now is leaning Republican.

The ethics investigation into Garrett is expected to wrap up by early December.

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