Whether Democrats from North Jersey or South Jersey are to blame for Rep. Rob Andrews’s current legal predicament is somewhat unimportant at this late stage, Save Jerseyans.
Once one of the Garden State’s most promising liberal politicians, his fate now lies in the hands of a conservative Republican.
Politico reported last night that U.S. House Ethics Chairman Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) “will take until Aug. 31 to decide whether to create a special investigative subcommittee to look into the allegations against Andrews.” An ominous development indeed in the ongoing saga of Southwest Jersey’s long-time House member…
Rumors concerning the Congressman’s alleged spending habits are certainly old news to Save Jersey, yet the House didn’t formally initiate the beginning stages of an ethics inquiry until last week. On July 17th, the House Ethics Committee publicly “decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Robert Andrews.” This latest announcement from Rep. Bonner and the ranking Democrat on his committee, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), could signal a dangerous legal “point of no return” for Andrews who reportedly retained the high-profile Brand Law Group months ago.
Rep. Andrews stands accused of using federal campaign funds to pay for various personal expenses but has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
Of course speculation will run wild notwithstanding any denials however compelling. Will there be an investigation? If there is an inquiry, will it result in any ethics charges? And could those hypothetical charges lead to penalties, including censure?
All premature, yes, but nevertheless relevant questions when you step back for a moment and contemplate who could be in the South Jersey line of succession should Andrews decide to bail. Elected men-in-waiting like Sweeney/Norcross/Greenwald could step in very late in the 2012 cycle like Lautenberg did for Bob Torricelli in 2002 and, ironically, Andrews did for his own wife in 2008.
Just don’t expect a quick disposition of the ethics case.
The entire process could take awhile to play out. A long while. Rep. Charlie Rangel’s recent run-in with Ethics is instructive. That investigation commenced in September 2008, but Rep. Rangel wasn’t formerly charged by the Committee for violations of House rules and federal law until July 29, 2010 – almost two full years later.