Caving to pressure, N.J. congressman will repay $9,000 to campaign fund

    Responding to public criticism, N.J. Congressman Rob Andrews has decided to repay about $9,000 in campaign funds he used for a family trip to Scotland.

    Under federal law, campaign funds are to be used for political, not personal expenses.

    The Newark Star Ledger reported Sunday that in June, Andrews and his family traveled to Scotland for a contributor’s wedding. His campaign fund spent more than $7,700 for three nights in two rooms at the Balmoral Hotel. He also charged his campaign fund for a $443 wedding gift and $953 in other expenses.

    Melanie Sloan, director of the Washington-based Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility, said she doesn’t buy Andrews’ explanation that the trip was a political expense because he built good will with a donor.

    “While you might be able to explain why he would need to send a wedding gift based on that, it is really hard to see why he’d need to go to Scotland, stay at a five-star hotel and bring his family with him,” Sloane said in a telephone interview.

    Andrews’ campaign manager Fran Tagmire said in a statement that the congressman did nothing wrong, but the public discussion of the matter interferes with his work. So Tagmire said Andrews will repay the $9,000 to his campaign fund, and also direct a donation of that amount to an organization serving homeless veterans.

    Sloan said her organization will still file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, because there are other instances in which Andrews “misappropriated campaign funds for his personal use.”

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