A South Jersey congressman who is being investigated by a House Ethics Committee for improper campaign fund spending has announced he'll retire from office in two weeks.

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ)
U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) (David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ)

Democrat Rob Andrews will step down to take a higher-paying job with the law firm Dilworth Paxson in Philadelphia.

During a news conference Tuesday in Haddon Heights, Andrews said the ongoing probe did not influence his decision.

"I made this decision because I think it's the right one for my family at this time," Andrews said.

The congressman said one of his two daughters is likely to begin medical school soon, while a second daughter will head off to college shortly.

"It looks to me like we'd have to borrow three-quarters of a million dollars to help our kids complete their education," Andrews said. "This is a debt we would not like to push off on our children."

Andrews is being investigated for using some campaign funds to pay for a family trip to Scotland to attend a wedding, money he points out was paid back before the probe began.

"I regret creating any distraction that would take people away from the mission I brought to this office," Andrews said in response to repeated questions about the ethics investigation, "which is to try to help the people of my community and my country."

Andrews served South Jersey for more than 23 years, and said he has no regrets about challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg in the Democratic primary in 2008 -- a decision which alienated him in many party circles.

He said an election to select a new representative will be set by Gov. Chris Christie.

A few hours after Andrews' announcement, South Jersey state Sen. Donald Norcross announced he will be a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant seat.

"I am running for Congress because South Jersey needs someone who is going to stand up for us in Washington, D.C., as Rob Andrews has done for more than two decades," Norcross said. "I have spent my career fighting for middle class families, senior citizens and workers. It is a sad truth that while some are doing better, too many are falling further behind. If elected to Congress, I will focus on creating jobs across South Jersey and an equal opportunity for everyone."

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