House Ethics Committee continues probing Rob Andrews for improper using of campaign funds

 Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) may have violated House rules and federal law by using campaign funds to pay for personal trips to Scotland and Los Angeles and by using a graduation party for his daughter to raise campaign cash, the congressional ethics office said Friday, providing new details in the ongoing investigation of the incidents.


Rep. Rob Andrews denies that he used campaign funds for personal trips. (Harry Hamburg/AP)

Andrews denied the charges Friday, noting in a statement that the ethics panel “has reached no conclusion on this matter.” He added that “the record will show that I have followed all rules and met all standards of the House.”

The detailed report recounted how in May 2011 Andrews initially used personal funds to pay roughly $16,500 for four business-class airplane tickets for himself, his wife and two daughters to attend a wedding in Scotland. Andrews later had the money refunded and paid for the tickets with funds from his leadership PAC, the Committee to Strengthen America, according to the report. Investigators with the Office of Congressional Ethics also said in the report that Andrews used $1,610 from his PAC as “petty cash” on the trip and used PAC funds to purchase a $462 wedding gift of china.

In June 2011, the report said, Andrews and his wife, Camille, hosted a high school graduation party for one of their daughters that the party invitations also described as a celebration of Andrews’s 20 years in Congress. The couple used a mix of personal and PAC money to pay for the event. The report said more than 300 people attended the party — and that just 14 were personal friends of Andrews’s daughter.

Camille Andrews told investigators that their daughter received gifts from party guests but that “every single check that was given to her at the party, we shredded.” She did not say why the checks were shredded, according to the report.

In November 2011, Andrews and his daughters took multiple trips to Los Angeles that were paid for with PAC money. Andrews told investigators that he visited Los Angeles for PAC planning meetings and that his daughters performed basic campaign volunteer duties while on the trip. But he later refused to provide investigators with meeting notes or itineraries. While in Los Angeles, Andrews said, one of his daughters also attended recording sessions for her fledgling music career.

The allegations against Andrews first surfaced last fall in news reports, and he faces a separate investigation by the Federal Election Commission.

Andrews was first elected to the House in 1990 and represents a solidly Democratic district. In 2008, he mounted an unsuccessful primary campaign against Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.).

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Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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