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Camille Andrews threatens to keep it real

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Rutgers-Camden is playing the role of Secretariat at the Belmont in this year’s Most Preposterous Law School derby:

When New Jersey Rep. Rob Andrews used campaign funds to pay for a family trip to Scotland, an unusual compliance officer signed off: his wife.

Camille Andrews, a lawyer and associate dean at the Rutgers-Camden law school, also oversees legal questions about Andrews’ political spending.

So when the Democratic congressman decided in 2011 that the couple and their two daughters should fly to Edinburgh and stay in a five-star hotel for a wedding, he relied on her judgment that they could use campaign accounts to cover the $30,115 tab, according to statements in a recently unveiled ethics investigation.

You may remember Dean Andrews and Rutgers-Camden from such emails and press releases as “many [of our 2011 graduates] accepted positions with firms paying in excess of $130,000,” [“many” in this context turned out to be a term of art meaning “one”] and “we understated our graduates’ debt levels by a factor of three while claiming to be one of the biggest bargains in legal education.”

Now Andrews has dusted off her Con Law casebook, and skimmed New York Times v. Sullivan, so she could bluster to the Philadelphia Inquirer that she’s not kidding around about protecting her professional reputation, such as it is:

The wedding was for a onetime political operative Rob Andrews said he hoped to recruit to help in campaigns, so he has argued that the expenses were tied to his political work.

Details of Camille Andrews’ role emerged in a 244-page report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan board that reviews ethics complaints and sends potential violations to the House ethics committee.

Testimony in the report, released Aug. 31, offers a revealing glimpse of the 22-year congressman, highlighting his hopes to expand his influence in the House and his reliance on a small circle of advisers, including his wife.

The trip to Edinburgh, a bustling city that blends ancient spires and an imposing castle with modern shopping and restaurants, drew the most attention from the ethics board.

Andrews, 55, decides which events to attend, he told Office of Congressional Ethics investigators. His wife determines whether campaign funds can pay for them.

That pattern held for the Scotland trip. Andrews told investigators he was “perfectly comfortable and confident” in his wife’s judgment.

“Camille serves as our compliance officer. . . . She is one of the three best lawyers I know – maybe five,” he said in a 57-minute interview with the board March 6.

“I made an evaluation and decision that I thought it was an appropriate expenditure,” Camille Andrews said in her meeting with the board.

She was referring to the $16,575 in flights to Scotland paid for by the congressman’s leadership fund.
The rest came from Andrews’ campaign account, which is used for a range of expenses as varied as $2.50 for cafeteria coffee to $1,123 in Tiffany’s purchases. Rob Andrews told investigators that the Tiffany’s items were not personal purchases and were likely gifts for a campaign donor or volunteer.

Other members of Congress have used spouses as compliance officers, said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen.

“It is a conflict of interest, and it lacks all credibility,” he said . . .

Camille Andrews wrote that her husband’s responses to questions about this article “reflect my position.”

“I am not a public figure,” she wrote. “I will respond to any reports or comments that disparage me or portray me deliberately in a false professional light by pursuing appropriate legal recourse.”

I wonder what Camille Andrews teaches at Rutgers-Camden? Hmmm . . . let’s see . . . ah yes.

There are days when the jokes just write themselves.

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  • rea

    How the heck can a campaign official claim she is not a public figure?

    • Hanspeter

      Does the lowly phone staffer also qualify as a public figure? What’s the cutoff in the campaign staff between public and private figures?

      • Paul Campos

        I don’t know but Camille Andrews won the Democratic primary for her husband’s House seat when he was running for the Senate. That’s well over whatever the line may be.

        • Hanspeter

          In this instance, that does change the balance as she put herself out for public scrutiny, although some years ago for different circumstances. However, it seems to me that the blanket sentiment mentioned by rea and Sherm that just because she’s an official for (or is married to) a public representative makes her a public figure is a bit too lenient.

          Separate but related question for the lawyers: can a public figure go back to getting private figure treatment under the law? Say someone runs for elected office, wins (or loses), then goes back to their previous job and does no more public stuff (speeches, meetings, campaigning, etc). Is there some point when they would go back to the higher protections given to private figures with regards to libel/slander, etc?

  • Rick Massimo

    “Camille serves as our compliance officer. . . . She is one of the three best lawyers I know – maybe five,” he said in a 57-minute interview with the board March 6.

    Now THAT’S fking funny.

    • Warren Terra

      And it’s atually rather unclear. Is he’s saying that on further reflection she’s the fifth-best lawyers he knows? Or maybe he’s saying that he knows “maybe five” lawyers well enough to assess their talents, and she’s squarely in the middle?

      Grammatically, he could even be saying she’s five of the three best lawyers he knows. Wouldn’t make a lot of sense, but then this SOB is dumb enough to spend on himself $30 grand of money that’s not his and the use of which is a public record.

    • blondie

      That’s exactly what I thought. “Oh, I’m the 3rd, oops, the 5th best lawyer you know? Thanks a lot honey.”

  • Sherm

    She is serving as a compliance officer for a public official, yet she thinks she is entitled to the protections afforded to non-public figures? Good luck with that.

    And what a goddamn racket. She and her husband make more than enough money to pay for trips like this out of their own pockets.

    • (the other) Davis

      She and her husband make more than enough money to pay for trips like this out of their own pockets.

      Reaching into your own pocket is for the little people.

    • Spuddie

      Being rich means not paying for things yourself =)

      • Sherm

        I’m self-employed, and I am constantly disgusted at the personal expenses that I see many self-employed people put through their firms and companies. I can’t imagine anyone thinking that this is acceptable.

      • catclub

        When I found out that poor people are much more generous than rich people. It finally clicked. Rich people are rich at least partly because they are the type of people who make substantial efforts to make sure that money sticks to them. And the converse for poor people.

  • What the hell, did they fly on the Concorde? That’s a boat load of money to get to Edinburgh.

    Be that as it may, strong evidence that she and her husband have been living off of the campaign accounts to keep up their standard of living.

  • Her bio suggests she’s pretty comfortable being a public figure.

  • CZHA

    These facts could easily make up at least three questions on the MPRE.

  • Amazing! Thiis blog looks just like my old one! It’s on
    a completely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design.
    Excellent choice of colors!

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