NJ Democrat Rob Andrews To Resign From Congress Amid Campaign Fund Allegations

On Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews announced he will resign amid allegations he misused campaign funds on personal expenses. Andrews, 56, was first elected to the House in 1990, ushered in via special election thanks to departed Rep. Jim Florio's gubernatorial ambitions. A mere 23 years, a couple failed bids to climb the political ladder (he's tried and failed both to become a governor and a U.S. senator), and an ethics investigation of alleged misuse of campaign funds later, Andrews has made the call himself: he's stepping down.

The substance of the charges against Andrews, by the House Ethics Committee, may come as a welcome surprise to those weary of complex lobbying influences, opaque bribes, and the corrupting cause-and-effect relationships such wheeling and dealing can spur. Rather, this is a case for fans of good old-fashioned, unambitious political graft, in that it's all about the money.

Andrews is accused of having spent about $16,500 for four first-class airline tickets to Europe, where he and his family were attending a wedding. The money was subsequently refunded to him by his own Political Action Committee (there are also allegations of other expenditures, his daughter's birthday party among them).

Andrews denied wrongdoing, and according to the House's ethics report, didn't fully cooperate with the investigation, refusing to show some documents related to the travel, and only submitting credit cards statements with "significant redactions." When the charges emerged back in 2012, Andrews decried them as examples of partisan persecution:

Last November, the Republican party’s local chairman issued a press release announcing that he had forwarded to the House Ethics committee a series of accusations against me and my family. These accusations are totally and categorically false. Such attacks on anyone’s children and families, who are not public figures, should have no place in our political discourse.

As is the case with these ethics inquiries, by stepping down Andrews will be able to duck further repercussions, be they legitimate ethical violations, or merely sources of further embarrassment. The seat he vacates figures to remain safely and easily in Democratic hands, given the district's reliably blue voting record over the last many years — they did elect him 12 times in a row, after all — and is expected to be sought by State Senator David Norcross.