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Romney aide accused of using fake badges quits campaign

An aide to Mitt Romney resigned from the campaign yesterday, but he denied allegations that he used fake badges so he and other members of Romney's advance staff could gain access to closed areas and, in one instance, avoid paying a highway toll.

"I have resigned from the Mitt Romney for President campaign so that the media attention on me will not become a distraction to the campaign's efforts," Jay Garrity said in a statement released by his spokeswoman, Nancy Sterling.

"I am completely confident that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing, because the allegations being made against me are demonstrably false," the statement said.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom confirmed that the campaign had accepted Garrity's resignation. He had been on leave for allegedly impersonating a law enforcement officer in two states.

The Boston Herald reported yesterday, quoting unnamed campaign sources, that Garrity manufactured the silver badges with a Massachusetts state seal while Romney was still governor. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to use a badge without authority, an offense punishable with a fine up to $50.

"No one on the Mitt Romney for President campaign is authorized to use a badge, nor has the campaign provided anyone with a badge," Fehrnstrom told the Associated Press.

Asked if staff members who remain with the campaign, Mark Glanville and Will Ritter, ever received a badge from Garrity, Fehrnstrom referred questions to Garrity's lawyer.

Sterling -- also a spokeswoman for Robert Popeo, the Boston attorney retained by Garrity -- said Garrity, Glanville, and Ritter did not have badges, but "a round metal disc with the seal of the governor's office."

She said Garrity never used the ID to avoid paying a toll. He most usually rode in an official state vehicle equipped with a free toll pass, she said.