That Time a Young Amy McGrath Sued Her Elementary School-Teacher Roommate

McGrath, now a Kentucky Senate candidate, won a judgment for an unpaid $116.77 electric bill, plus court costs, after the roommate complained of parties.

RICHMOND, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 06:  Amy McGrath address supporters after her loss during her Election Night Event at the EKU Center for the Arts on November 6, 2018 in Richmond, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jason Davis/Getty Images)
Amy McGrath address supporters after her loss during her election night event at the EKU Center for the Arts on Nov. 6, 2018 in Richmond, Ky. Photo: Jason Davis/Getty Images

Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath sued her one-time roommate, an elementary school teacher, in small claims court in Florida in an effort to recover $116.77 in what she claimed were unpaid electric bills. 

The roommate’s LinkedIn profile suggests that she was working three jobs at the time.

McGrath, according to court documents, won her claim, and the roommate was also required to pay court costs as well, bringing the total due to $208.27.   

The landlord also filed a third-party claim against McGrath’s roommate, who in turn made a counter-claim against the landlord. The court ordered the landlord to return the roommate’s $200 security deposit, minus $94.78 for an unpaid water bill — meaning she was to get back roughly the same amount she owed McGrath (before being hit with court costs).

McGrath was training at the nearby Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1999, the time of the suit, having recently graduated from the Naval Academy. 

The roommate sent a handwritten note to the judge explaining that the landlord only threatened to sue her after she complained to McGrath’s superior in the Navy that McGrath’s regular late night parties were making the living arrangement difficult. “I suffered terribly in that unit,” she told the judge complaining of sewage backing up in the tub. “I was working full time for Escambia Schools & looking for another place to live because Lt. McGrath had lots of parties that lasted beyond 10 p.m. When I mentioned this to Navy Captain J.D. Allen, who was sitting next to me during a teachers’ test, he suggested I call the Naval Air Station and inform Lt. McGrath’s supervisor. I did that and Mr. Richards” — the landlord — “called me and threatened to take me to court. He frightened me so much, I called the Naval Air Station and was advised to call the local police. I did that and [an officer] told me that Mr. Richards had no case against me.”


Letter from Amy McGrath’s roommate to judge.

Escambia County Courts

“Your Honor, that episode of my living at [redacted] was the most horrible rental experience in my life. My family rented property in Columbus, Ohio, and we never treated tenants with such meanness. Please help me, Your Honor.”

The landlord died in late 2017. McGrath’s spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment. The roommate has since returned to Columbus, where she continues as an educator. Reached for comment, a difficult-to-untangle conversation ensued, in which she initially denied having ever roomed with McGrath or being involved in any litigation with her. She added that she was a “hardcore Trumpster” and that President Donald Trump himself was giving a live press conference that I was taking her away from. I called back later and gave her additional details, and she confirmed that she did indeed teach elementary school in Escambia and had in fact roomed with McGrath. She also confirmed complaining about the parties, but said she bore no ill will toward McGrath, whom she did not appear to know was running for Senate.

Part 2 of McGrath roommate’s letter

Escambia County Courts

“I keep praying for that woman even all these years later. I never should have taken that place,” the roommate said. “I don’t know if she’s even still in the Armed Services.”

The roommate spoke on the record, but The Intercept is withholding her name because it has no news value and would only bring her unwanted attention.

She added that she was not aware McGrath had sued her or that there had been a judgment. Asked about the letter she had written the judge, she asked how The Intercept had gotten a hold of it, and began to end the conversation. “Let’s just let it drop, it’s of no interest to me,” she said. Her letter to the judge is dated two months before the final ruling. “Even if I’m supposed to get $200, I’m not interested, it can just stay where it is.”

McGrath, who grew up in Kentucky, served 20 years in the Marine Corps, flying combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. She ran and lost for a House seat representing the Lexington area in 2018, and was recruited to run for Senate by Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. Her chief opponent, Louisville state Rep. Charles Booker, has been surging in recent weeks, with a new poll showing him up by 8 points, 44-36 percent. But mail-in voting is already underway, and McGrath may have banked enough early votes, before her campaign collapsed, to survive through the June 23 primary, thanks in large part to her well-funded operation to reach out to supporters to encourage them to quickly return ballots. On Thursday afternoon, Booker won an endorsement from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who had previously been supportive of McGrath, though had not explicitly endorsed her.

On Tuesday, Schumer was asked about McGrath’s flagging campaign, and stood behind her. “Amy McGrath is our candidate,” he said. McGrath is on track to spend upwards of $30 million during the primary.

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