Schweizer Book 'Extortion' Sparks Rob Andrews Resignation
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) announced on Tuesday he will resign from Congress in the wake of an explosive CBS 60 Minutes joint investigation by Government Accountability Institute (GAI) President and Breitbart News Senior Editor-At-Large Peter Schweizer and veteran reporter Steve Kroft.
The joint investigation, which was based on Schweizer's book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, revealed how Andrews, a 24-year House veteran and leading Democratic voice for Obamacare, turned his leadership PAC into a private slush fund to bankroll lavish trips and gifts.
Andrews tapped his wife, Camille Andrews--a lawyer and an associate law dean at Rutgers School of Law--Camden--to serve as a compliance officer for his leadership PAC. Leadership PACs are a special type of political action committee with few restrictions that are ostensibly created to help elect fellow party members. Mrs. Andrews approved the use of funds to fly her, Rep. Andrews, and their two daughters to Edinburgh, Scotland for a wedding at a luxury resort. Andrews’s leadership PAC also picked up the tab for $16,575 in airfare. His campaign committee picked up the rest of the tab, which was slightly under $14,000.
"Andrews's leadership PAC even picked up the tab for the wedding gift...china, from Bloomingdale's," writes Schweizer in Extortion. "It was quite the trip. The family tapped Andrews's campaign committee for 'petty cash' for Scotland in the form of two checks for at least $2,500. They stayed in two rooms in the luxury five-star Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. Campaign contributors also picked up the tab for dinners, the in-room bar, and other expenses."
Schweizer reported on Andrews's other creative uses of his leadership PAC:
On another occasion, the Andrewses decided it would be nice to merge a campaign event with their daughter's graduation. The invitation they sent out to donors and friends read: 'We hope that you and your family will join us in celebrating Rob's 20 years of serving in the House of Representatives and [the daughter's] graduation from the Baldwin School.' Both events were held at the same time at their house, which allowed them to blend the costs of the two events, though the PAC did not pay for the entire evening.
When the congressman's daughter received checks at the party, Camille Andrews assured the public that "every single check that was given to her at the party, we shredded."
In Extortion, Schweizer also chronicled how Andrews funneled campaign money to cronies to benefit family members:
He funneled campaign money to several theatres that would engage his daughter (an actress and singer) to perform. His campaign donated money to the Rock School of Dance, where his daughter trained, and then paid the Prince Music Theater and the Walnut Street Theater, both in Philadelphia, tens of thousands of dollars in donations for events and 'expenses.' His campaign also bought tickets for school groups to attend performances. His campaign committee donated to the Broadway Theater in Pittman, New Jersey, where his daughter performed. And when she performed at Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park in New Jersey, his campaign picked up meal expenses.
When CBS reporter Steve Kroft confronted the Democratic New Jersey congressman on the reporting in Schweizer's book, Andrews said, “I think we should take a look at having clearer rules at what they can and cannot be spent for. I'd be for that.” Andrews claimed he could not speak more on the matter because of a pending House Ethics investigation, even though Kroft said the committee told him they were fine with Andrews speaking about the matter.
The Andrews resignation is not the first time a Kroft-Schweizer investigation has exposed cronyism and corruption by members of Congress. In 2011, Kroft and Schweizer teamed up for a 60 Minutes investigation based on Schweizer’s last New York Times bestseller, Throw Them All Out. The report sent shockwaves through Washington when Schweizer and Kroft revealed that Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was given insider access to the Visa credit card IPO that scored her a 50% profit in just two days.
The report also alleged that Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) engaged in insider trading, prompting an ethics investigation. Bachus eventually stepped down from his chairmanship of the Financial Services Committee. Schweizer’s book ultimately led to the passage of the STOCK (Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge) Act banning congressional insider trading. Slate hailed Throw Them All Out as “the book that started the STOCK Act stampede.”
Asked for his comments on Rob Andrews's resignation, Schweizer told Breitbart News: "The Government Accountability Institute (GAI) is a nonpartisan investigative research team committed to exposing cronyism and misuse of taxpayer money. For those discouraged by the cronyism corrupting Washington, the Andrews resignation demonstrates that we can hold them accountable. For those in power who are engaging in self-enrichment, we have two words: watch out."