Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Garrett Keeps Quiet on Gay Candidates

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Garrett Keeps Quiet on Gay Candidates

Article excerpt

Rep. Scott Garrett returned to the Capitol and cast two votes on uncontroversial bills Tuesday night, but he continued to avoid public comment about his own controversial opposition to financing gay Republican candidates, a position that has deeply divided members of his party.

Garrett, a Sussex County Republican whose congressional district is anchored in Bergen County, has not responded in any way to numerous requests to his office for comment since his reason for not contributing to or raising money for the House Republicans' campaign committee was revealed in a published report last Thursday.

That same day, Garrett missed five votes before the House recessed for the weekend -- a rare occurrence for a seven-term congressman who has missed only 21 of 1,650 votes held since 2013, according to the website govtrack.us. On Tuesday morning, his office issued a news release about the anniversary of a Wall Street reform law he opposed, but again made no comment about his stance on funding gay candidates.

And on Tuesday night, a reporter for the Capitol Hill news organization Roll Call said on Twitter that when he saw Garrett and asked about his contributions, Garrett responded, "OK. Have a good night."

While he remained silent, others in his party were talking about him. Bergen County's Republican chairman confirmed that Garrett's religious opposition to homosexuality was one of his reasons for not sending campaign funds to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Though the chairman, Bob Yudin, said he did not share Garrett's opinion, he nevertheless defended Garrett's right to hold it. Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, a Republican from River Vale, disagreed, saying the party could not thrive by excluding people.

Garrett, whose constituency is 70 percent Bergen County voters, has a record of bucking his party's national leadership on legislation that conflicts with his staunch conservative views. The revelation of his reason for not supporting the NRCC since 2013, first reported by Politico, came at a meeting of Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, where Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R- Texas, was urging more support for the House leadership.

Garrett voted against another term for House Speaker John Boehner in January, and is a co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, which regularly pushes Boehner not to compromise on matters its members consider Republican principles.

If Garrett continues to oppose party leaders, he could be removed as chairman of a subcommittee that regulates the stock market and mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- a position that has helped Garrett raise nearly $1 million in each of the past two election cycles from companies tied to finance, insurance and real estate.

But he has also maintained support from fellow conservative hard- liners, and though Boehner has moved people from committee assignments for disciplinary reasons, he has reversed some of those moves after members objected this year. …

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