House Ethics Committee launches probes of Rob Andrews, Don Young

Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.), left, faces a formal ethics inquiry. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

The House Ethics Committee plans to launch separate formal investigations of Reps. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.) and Don Young (R-Alaska), continuing probes into long-simmering accusations against both lawmakers.

In separate statements, the panel said Tuesday that it is empaneling two investigative subcommittees to review the allegations.

Andrews has faced allegations that he 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.

A report released last year detailed 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.

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

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). (The Washington Post)

Young has faced years of allegations of wrongdoing, but the Ethics Committee  deferred a formal investigation while the Justice Department conducted a wide-ranging probe of corruption allegations tied to Alaska-based energy executives who pleaded guilty to bribing a collection of state officials, including the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).

In a statement Tuesday, the ethics panel said DOJ had referred several documents from its probe to the committee for further review.

Separately, the Ethics Committee previously investigated Young to determine whether he had improperly accepted certain donations to his legal defense fund, but the panel announced in December 2011 that it had determined he had not violated any rules.

In a statement, Andrews said he would "eagerly" provide "any and all information" requested by the committee.

"This continuing review by the House Ethics Committee will establish and confirm that I have always followed all the rules and met all the standards of the House," Andrews said. "In this process, I have always responded truthfully and accurately in all respects."

Michael Anderson, a spokesman for Young, said the congressman "has cooperated with the committee and will continue to do so."

The Ethics Committee reviews dozens of accusations against lawmakers annually, often after referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan investigative clearinghouse that investigates accusations of wrongdoing. The committee usually votes to continue informal reviews of accusations, but rarely establishes formal investigative subcommittees. The panel is only required to publicly announce the start of a formal probe and doesn't publicly discuss specific allegations.

According to the Ethics Committee, the Andrews probe will be led by Reps. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) and Pedro Pierlusi (D-P.R.), while the Young investigation will be led by Reps. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Michael E. Capuano (D-Mass.).

Paul Kane and Ben Pershing contributed to this report, which has been updated.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

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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