U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews will leave Congress in two weeks after 23 years in office.


Rob Andrews holds a press conference announcing he is leaving Congress
Rob Andrews holds a press conference announcing he is leaving Congress (CBS Philadelphia)

The 56-year-old is leaving the Capitol on Feb. 18. He intends to join a law firm with offices in Washington. He says the job just opened and he "had to make a decision this weekend."

Andrews was first elected to Congress to represent a district outside Philadelphia in 1990.

A congressional ethics committee has been looking into Andrews' campaign spending after reports that he was using campaign funds for trips to California, where his daughter had a fledgling singing and acting career. His departure will end that inquiry.

The seat will be open until the general election in November.

Bill Caruso, a former aide to Andrews, said Andrews' decision to resign came largely because both his daughters are in college. "It has everything to do with the opportunity," Caruso said.

The seat will be open until the general election in November.

For years, Andrews was seen — and saw himself — as a politician capable of higher office.

He ran statewide twice, losing a gubernatorial primary in 1997 and then mounting an unsuccessful and brazen primary challenge in 2008 against U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, suggesting that Lautenberg was too old for the job.

The challenge against Lautenberg, who died last year at 89, ruffled the feathers of some in New Jersey's Democratic establishment.

Andrews, who grew up in the blue-collar town of Bellmawr and commutes daily by train to Washington, said he would not return to Congress if he lost that election. His wife ran in the primary for the seat that year, and won. But after Andrews' primary loss, he returned to the ballot for the general election.

Andrews has been in elective office nearly his entire adult life, serving as a Camden County freeholder before he was elected to serve New Jersey's 1st Congressional District, an area dominated by Democrats, at 33.

He's been known as one of the most independent Democrats in New Jersey's Congressional delegation. He broke with his party on support for the war in Iraq, even working with the George W. Bush White House on the wording of the resolution authorizing military action.

He also had a key role passing President Barack Obama's health insurance overhaul in 2010.

In recent years, Andrews has attracted scrutiny for campaign spending practices.

In 2009, he repaid his campaign for more than $900 for replacing clothing that was lost by an airline. The FEC had ruled that that expenditure was not permissible.

In 2011, he reimbursed more than $13,000 he used to take his family to a donor's wedding in Scotland. Even as it repaid, the campaign said there was nothing wrong with using campaign money for the trip.

His will be the second New Jersey congressional seat open for this November's election.

Rep. Jon Runyan, a Republican who represents neighboring 3rd District, stretching from the Philadelphia suburbs to the shore, has announced that he will not seek a third term.



(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved)

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