Metro Weekly

N.J. congressman refuses to pay NRCC dues because they back gay candidates

Rep. Scott Garrett bucks party leadership by refusing to back Republican Party's campaign arm

U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (Credit: Office of U.S. Congressman Scott Garrett, uploaded by RGS2008, via Wikimedia Commons).

U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (Credit: Office of U.S. Congressman Scott Garrett, uploaded by RGS2008, via Wikimedia Commons).

U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) is taking a stand against his party over its support for openly gay Republican candidates. According to Politico, the seven-term congressman got into a minor skirmish with some of his fellow Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee during a closed committee hearing.

During the meeting, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), told members — in comments thought to be directed towards Garrett — that subcommittee chairmen are expected to pay their dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which recruits and financially supports candidates running for the House of Representatives. Hensarling also reminded his fellow Republicans that they are expected to side with party leaders on procedural votes.

According to sources who spoke to Politico, Garrett allegedly said that his defiance of House leadership on a previous procedural vote was a matter of conscience. He then added that he has not supported the NRCC in the past because it has recruited gay candidates to run for Congress and supported openly gay candidates in GOP primaries.

Garrett’s comments in the meeting angered fellow lawmakers, who argued that NRCC does not get involved in primaries and has a policy of not discriminating against potential candidates based on their sexual orientation. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who led candidate recruitment for the NRCC during the last campaign cycle, pointed out that Richard Tisei, a gay Republican, was “equally homosexual” when Garrett donated directly to him in 2012.

According to campaign finance records, Garrett stopped giving to the NRCC during the 2014 election cycle, despite having contributed nearly $380,000 during the two previous cycles. In 2014, the GOP had three openly gay candidates run for Congress: Tisei, Carl DeMaio in California, and Dan Innis, in New Hampshire. Tisei and DeMaio won their primaries and received backing from the NRCC in the general election.

The issue was further revealed after New Jersey’s The Record ran a story pointing out Garrett’s hypocrisy. Garrett’s single-biggest source of contributions for his own campaign has been the employees of a New York Hedge fund whose chief executive, Paul Singer, has “bankrolled efforts to legalize gay marriage and set up a political action committee solely to help gay Republicans.”

Garrett’s office has not responded to requests for comment from either The Record or Politico regarding his alleged comments, but a source with inside knowledge of the workings of House leadership told Politico that Garrett has agreed to donate to the NRCC’s building fund and recount efforts, but not to the committee directly.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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