Andrews defends ethics charges, blasts local paper

“Such high-profile investigations will not only absorb much of Andrews’ time and energy for the remainder of this session but, even in the unlikely event that he should be completely exonerated, irreparably destroy his effectiveness,” said the editorial board.

“Andrews has made one dumb move after another, even if the actions skirt the edge of legality.”

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The chairman of the Camden County Republican Party in New Jersey asked the Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate Roberts last November, following a series of articles that appeared in the Newark-based Star-Ledger.

The articles allege the lawmaker used more than $9,000 in campaign funds to pay for a trip to Scotland with his wife and two children, and more than $10,000 to host a party at Andrews’s home celebrating his congressional service and his daughter's graduation. The paper also stated that Andrews’s campaign made a $12,500 donation to a local theater gala in which his daughter was performing.

Andrews rebuffed the allegations and criticized the attacks for taking aim on his family.

“I have always followed and abided by all rules and standards of the House of Representatives,” said Andrews in his op-ed. “I have always disclosed every dollar of campaign funds I have ever raised or spent.”

“Everyone who puts his or her name on the ballot accepts the duty to bear the criticism of our political debate,” he continued. “I accept and understand this reality. But no one should accept press coverage that defames members of an elected official's family, and our family most certainly does not.”

A Washington D.C.-based watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), filed a separate complaint against Andrews last year with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), citing the same Star-Ledger articles.

In a later statement, CREW alleged that Andrews directed $8,700 campaign contributions to his wife’s employer, Rutgers School of Law in Camden, where she is associate dean of enrollment.

Andrews criticized CREW for not disclosing where it receives its funding and suggested the group attacks the ethics records of members of Congress in exchange for financial backing from “secret donors.” Andrews added that the FEC has not taken any action on the allegations against him.