It may sound hard to believe, but I take no joy in reading reports that Rep. Rob Andrews is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee as well as the Federal Election Commission for alleged gross misuses of campaign funds for personal purposes.
You see, I already knew what the 22-year congressman was up to as far back as 2008. That’s when my congressional campaign first reported things like Rob’s campaign paying for vacations, five-star hotel stays, and dinners at world-class restaurants with money from his campaign coffers.
Our campaign also was the first to report that Andrews secured federal earmarks totaling more than $2 million to the Rutgers School of Law – specifically to the Admissions Department where his wife Camille was the Assistant Dean. These grants were used for scholarships for incoming freshmen – a noble idea in itself. However, when you consider that scholarships equate to increased enrollment which presumably helps his wife as the head of admissions, a definite conflict of interest emerges.
Speaking of Ms. Andrews, our campaign was also the first to report that Rob re-donated thousands of donors’ dollars to the Walnut Street Theater where Camille sat on the board of trustees. The last time I looked, Philadelphia was not in Andrews’ congressional district. “Coincidently,” his daughter was awarded a role in the gala.
So, you may ask, why am I just reading about this gross abuse of power now? Didn’t you say, Dale, that your campaign first reported Rob’s financial shenanigans in 2008? Yes, indeed we did. We caught Andrews’s campaign using donor cash for non-campaign expenditures again and again. Repeatedly in 2008, and multiple times in 2010…
However, the mainstream media refused to cover the story, neglecting their journalistic responsibilities and denying the voters of South Jersey the right to make an informed decision at the polls. By their collective silence, they also enabled Andrews’ continued misuse of campaign funds.
Their lame excuse was that they didn’t consider the race in CD-1 to be a competitive one. Well, maybe it would have been closer if The Courier Post, The Philadelphia inquirer, The Gloucester County Times and The Burlington County Times had actually done their due diligence and reported on the story.
And even if it wouldn’t have changed the results of the general election, is that really a good reason for burying a story about scandalous behavior by a federal campaign?
The Glading for Congress campaign sent each of these newspapers countless press releases detailing Andrews’ campaign’s actions and calling for a full-scale investigation. We did all of the research for them – including pouring over reams of FEC reports.
We called press conference after press conference, but the aforementioned newspapers were apparently too busy to show up… or were ordered by their editors not to?
Undeterred, we even posted our findings as well as our press conferences online. Just Google my name or visit Youtube and many of our campaign videos are still there.
So where do we go from here?
Well, as man of faith, I long ago concluded that God has a perfect plan for my life. Apparently, He didn’t intend for me to represent South Jersey in the House of Representatives and I can live with that.
My heart also goes out to those who will be caught in the political fall-out of Rob’s inappropriate behavior, including his two daughters.
However, I strongly believe that the media owe a collective apology to the voters of South Jersey for not just failing to report the story, but for burying it. As I said, our campaign did all of the legwork and then handed over our indisputable findings to them on a silver platter.
I wonder whatever happened to that platter?