Long before Mitt Romney earned his own real-life security detail from the US Secret Service, he decided that he would have one anyway. During the 2008 Republican presidential primary campaign, Romney was guarded by a unit whose dark jackets, earpieces and lapel pins led to their being taken by some for real government officers.
In fact, they were a team of campaign staff, whose heavy-handed antics culminated in two criminal inquiries. The unit was led by Jason "Jay" Garrity, then 29, one of several long-standing aides. Garrity had risen quickly through the ranks despite his history of impersonating police and security officials.
In 1998, he was accused of lying about his identity when confronted about why he was filming public appearances by their Democratic opponent. Then in 2004, he was summonsed to court after his car was discovered with a siren, police radios, a baton and a police patch stating "official business". It is unclear why Romney continued to promote Garrity, but by 2006 he had become his "director of operations", running the governor's unofficial security detail with 12 colleagues. As the prospect of a presidential bid grew, they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds on the governor's public image.
In April 2007 a journalist in Florida reported being confronted by Garrity "wearing a Secret Service-style lapel pin and an ear bud". "He physically blocked me off as I attempted to enter the Senate Office building," the reporter complained. Matters came to a head in May 2007 after a New York Times reporter complained of being pulled over by Garrity, who allegedly said: "We ran your licence plate" - which would have been illegal. An official inquiry was launched but documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph show that it was later dropped.
It can also be disclosed that after agreeing to quit Romney's campaign to save it further embarrassment, Garrity moved to the other side of America - just a five-minute drive away from Romney's $12?million beachside mansion in California. The pair have met in secret during this presidential campaign.