NJ congressman's lapses too blatant to ignore

Numerous charges of ethical violations have not resonated with voters, giving Rob Andrews a clear shot at re-election.

By Jonathan Berr Oct 15, 2012 12:07PM
Image: Washington, D.C. (Corbis)Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) repeatedly has been accused of ethical lapses for years, starting in 2007, when he used $952 in campaign funds to buy clothes after an airline lost his luggage. Though Andrews reimbursed the campaign, a report by the Federal Election Commission suggested he take steps to avoid such violations.

In fact, Andrews' misdeeds got worse.

In 2011, Andrews, his wife Camille and their two daughters flew to Scotland to attend a donor's wedding at a five-star hotel, giving the happy couple a set of fine china. In the process, he racked up more than $13,000 in expenses that he charged to his campaign committee. Although he repaid the money, the trip expenses were strongly questioned by Congress' ethics office, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

But he didn’t stop there.

The New Jersey Democrat spent $10,000 in campaign contributions on a party billed as a joint celebration of his 20th anniversary in Congress and his daughter's high school graduation, the Star Ledger reports. Andrews also allegedly spent other people's money to support the show business aspirations of one his children, including at least $97,000 on travel expenses to California.

Ethical groups have accused his campaign committee of donating $100,000 to a Philadelphia theater where one of his daughters regularly performs, according to the Courier-Post. In addition, Andrews reportedly directed $1.5 million in earmarks to his wife's employer, the Rutgers University School of Law.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has referred Andrews' case to the House Ethics Committee, which is extending its investigation indefinitely, CBS News reports. Andrews, a 22-year veteran, has insisted that he has done nothing wrong. But officials who police miscreant lawmakers may think otherwise.

"I think they are going to come down pretty hard on Andrews," said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed a complaint against Andrews. In an interview, she added that the rules on abusing campaign contributions are "pretty clear."

Andrews, though, stands a good chance of being re-elected, since the ethics charges have not resonated with voters. His district is solidly Democratic. The Philadelphia Inquirer even endorsed him for re-election, "with reservations," observing that the Republican party didn't put up a credible candidate.

None of Andrews' previous challengers have come close to beating him, even in 2008, when he launched a primary challenge to Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Andrews' wife replaced him on the primary ballot and won her election. But when Andrews lost in the Senate primary, Camille Andrews withdrew from the congressional ballot and her husband was allowed back on and won another term.

Though I am against term limits, Andrews' misadventures make a convincing case for the idea. CREW has placed the Democrat on its list of the most corrupt members of Congress.

To read more about Andrews, click here.

Follow Jonathan Berr on Twitter@jdberr
Oct 17, 2012 1:03PM

Democrat or Republican does not matter - get all of these abusers out of government.  They make great money and have even better benefits - ie: non Obamacare - Cadillac healthcare insurance and a limousine pension fund.



Oct 16, 2012 10:41AM
Most (if not all) workers who have company credit cards are given rules to follow -
the rules state that you can not use the company card for private expenses, even if you intend to pay it back.... that's the rules of my company card.

If he had to buy clothes after the airline lost his luggage, didn't he have a personal credit card he could have used?
Follow the rules or get voted out.

Oct 15, 2012 5:48PM

What can I say.

NJ should be called THE GARBAGE STATE.

Oct 15, 2012 3:12PM
Oct 15, 2012 12:44PM
And to think I actually voted for this jack as s years ago. I should know to NEVER vote for a democrat.
Oct 16, 2012 2:40PM
" CREW has placed the Democrat on its list of the most corrupt members of Congress."

So what is he number 433!

Oct 17, 2012 1:06PM
ENTITLEMENT: definition - elected offical!
Oct 17, 2012 3:00PM
im from north caldwell nj, I have moved as the liberal leanings of the state in the past are so crooked and the taxes so insane you basically have to be a crook or crooked to be able to afford to live in many of the areas there.  so glad to see a republican in charge now however the saying goes "it is hard to soar with the eagles when you are surrounded with turkeys"  So I feel for the governor and him dealing with these turkeys
Oct 16, 2012 11:00AM
There is no advantage to voting people like this out; they still get a lavish pension, bennies up the ying-yang, and much like when holding office, are on permanent vacation. You don't have to play by the rules when you make the rules.
Oct 21, 2012 3:48AM
Well Ben Stein said it all on FOX News what i have been saying all along ! Tax cuts do not create jobs and we cannot balance the budget with just tax cuts alone!!!! And Wayne Rogers of Fox said what i have been saying all along !!! The US Congress are the ones that must act.. And they are still on VACATION America.... DUH.....
Oct 21, 2012 3:50AM
Like one guy said , clowns to the left of me , jokers to the right . Here i am stuck in the middle with you ..That's the US Congress ... America and them people in congress better wake up ..
Oct 22, 2012 12:31PM
Nancy Pelosi stated she would come down HARD on ethic abuses of both parties.  Hasn't happened as politicians are the crookedest people and belong in jail.
Oct 19, 2012 11:42PM

"Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". This man Andrews is at the mercy of his electorate and of fellow politicians. He's going to have to do something a lot worse than this to get kicked out. You know, like taking  bribes and kickbacks from defense contractors, stuff like that.

Oct 23, 2012 7:47PM

Didn't 21 term congressman Rangel in NY15th also involved with ethics violations?  Do you expect Congress to condemn their own. Censure?  A token gesture.

Oct 22, 2012 3:30PM
Oct 20, 2012 10:52PM
This guy must be related to the Obamas.
Oct 15, 2012 2:56PM
Just vote for the Nazis and be done with it.We need more war,guns and hate.
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