CNBNEWS.NET TIPS AND SNIPPETS
BY BILL CLEARY
South Jersey Congressman Under Investigation-U.S. Representative Rob
Andrews (1st District, D.) is under investigation by the House ethics committee for using campaign funds to pay for a family trip to Scotland last year.
The House Committee on Ethics says it is considering an investigation into the Camden County Democrat after the Office of Congressional Ethics referred a complaint in April.
The committee did not disclose the complaint’s details but Camden County Republican Chairman Tom Booth wrote the panel in November to ask it to investigate Andrews after a Star-Ledger report detailed the congressman’s campaign spending habits, including a $7,725 stay at a five-star hotel with his family in Scotland for the wedding of a donor whose name he won’t disclose and $10,000 for a high school graduation party for his daughter.
The newspaper also reported Andrews spent thousands in campaign funds on donations to theaters that cast his other daughter in their plays and fundraising trips to California that coincided with opportunities for her show business career.
Andrews argues that all of the expenses were legitimate because they were related to his holding and running for office, but after the Star-Ledger report he reimbursed his campaign account more than $13,000 for the Scotland trip expenses and then donated the money to charity.
Campaign finance reports also show that Andrews (D-1st District) used his leadership PAC to pay more than $16,000 for airfare for the Scotland trip, which he also later reimbursed.
In a statement, Andrews said he’s "always followed every rule and standard’ and called the allegations partisan.
"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," Andrews said. "None of these accusations involve the use of taxpayer or government money. Our campaign’s public disclosures show that every dollar of our campaign funds was properly spent and fully disclosed."
Elected to the seat in 1990, the Democrat Congressman also faces a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a good government watchdog group. Andrews’ campaign reports shows he has paid more than $100,000 to the law firm of Stanley Brand, who is known for representing members of congress who face ethics charges.
The Dirty Little Secret of O’s Student Loan Fix-President Obama’s much-touted plan to put a one-year freeze on student interest rates was signed into law with great fanfare this month. But the bill’s supporters hadn’t said where the money to subsidize the lower rates would come from.
Columnist Daniel Indiviglio of Reuters dug up the details this week, calling the bill financial “hocus-pocus.” The student-loan scheme was buried in a transportation bill. In it, the government raided its pension-guarantee fund to the tune of $6 billion — although the fund is already running a deficit of $26 billion.
The student-loan bill puts the pension system in jeopardy. To cover future payouts, pension contributions will need to rise by as much as $50 billion a year.
Plus, the bill lowers accounting standards for pension funds, letting them contribute less money than before while forecasting the same future return. That is, the president and Congress are pretending that a system that’s already broke will magically prosper in the future with even less direct investment.
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp is designed to insure private retirement plans. Millions of present and future retirees depend on it. Putting it at risk is simply irresponsible writes Nathan Harden, in the July 17 issue of the New York Post.
Never once did the president say that he wanted to keep student-loan rates low by dipping into pension funds. But that’s exactly what’s happened. Retirees aren’t paying “their fair share”; they’re getting robbed.
The president has made the student-loan issue a signature issue of his re-election campaign. But he never told us that lower loan rates would come at a cost to the financial security of the elderly.