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House ethics panel hones in on pair of lawmakers

| Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 7:12 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The House ethics committee announced on Tuesday it had begun formal investigations into Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska.

The panel, which operates largely in secret, said it had voted last month to appoint “investigative subcommittees” to determine whether the lawmakers broke House rules.

Both men have denied wrongdoing in the long-running cases.

The allegations against Andrews center on whether he converted campaign funds to personal expenses, including airfare, hotel bills and other expenses for him, his wife and two daughters to attend a 2011 wedding in Scotland. He later refunded more than $30,000 connected to that trip, according to investigative documents.

Investigators also have looked into Andrews' use of campaign funds to help pay for a party at his home that celebrated the 20th anniversary of his congressional service and his daughter's high school graduation.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog arm of the House, referred Andrews' case to the ethics panel in 2011. The allegations first surfaced in The Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

In Young's case, the ethics panel said it is examining whether he improperly received gifts, used official and campaign resources for personal use or made false statements to federal officials.

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