The Office of Congressional Ethics released a report in August stating that Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ-1) 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. Andrews denies the charges, asserting that the ethics panel “has reached no conclusion on this matter.” The report also revealed that the congressman’s wife acted as his campaign’s compliance officer.
NJ Today’s Managing Editor Mike Schneider caught up with Rep. Andrews to discuss the ethics report. But first, Andrews touted President Obama’s debate performance last night against Mitt Romney, saying Obama drew clear differences in how the two candidates would govern the country.
“Romney’s promises don’t add up,” he said. “President Obama is moving us in the right direction and I think he turned in a very strong performance that’s beginning to move the momentum back to our side.”
Congressman Rob Andrews, who is running for reelection, is considered very likely to win a twelfth term in Congress.
The city of Camden was recently named the poorest city in America. Asked about Camden’s ongoing problems, the South Jersey lawmaker says all elected officials, including himself, should be held accountable for Camden’s failures.
“What’s failed Camden has been a national policy that disinvests in our cities, that does not provide money for toxic waste cleanup, for job training, for public safety, for essentials in making it possible for people to invest in a place like Camden,” said Andrews.
He went on to list what he has done personally to bring jobs and prosperity back to the city. “We’ve built new student housing on Cooper Street in Camden just a little while ago, a new medical school opened in August, a new cancer center is arising on Haddon Street right now.”
He also credits Gov. Christie’s support for the troubled city. “Gov. Christie has been very open to helping us in Camden,” he said. “I’m a Democrat. He’s a Republican but he really has been willing to make decisions that have helped Camden. We appreciate that.”
A House ethics preliminary report said that Andrews’ trip to Scotland was not a legitimate political expense and questions have been raised about whether it was appropriate to have his wife act as his campaign’s compliance officer. According to Andrews, the investigation into the allegations is ongoing and is confident that he will be found to have acted in accordance with the rules.
He adds that accusations are par for the course in politics, and that constituents will be the ones to ultimately determine whether any impropriety had taken place.
“Accusations are not conclusions and I believe when the conclusions are made that people will see that we followed the rules.”
If re-elected, he says he would support a deficit reduction plan like that of the Simpson-Bowles plan which failed to pass in the House earlier this year.
“There was a House vote on the Simpson-Bowles recommendations which make reductions in entitlement spending and raise some revenue on the wealthiest Americans, dramatically reducing our deficit, only about 40 members of Congress were willing to vote for that and I was one of them.”