WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.), who is resigning next week, has had help defending himself in an ethics investigation from another South Jersey Democrat who is hoping to head to Congress.
Andrews hired Bill Hughes Jr. as part of his team responding to a House ethics committee investigation, Andrews’ office confirmed Monday. Hughes is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.) in a South Jersey district that includes all or parts of Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem counties and parts of Camden, Gloucester and Burlington counties.
“Bill is among the attorneys who have represented us in the ethics committee matter. He is an outstanding lawyer at a fine firm,” Andrews said in a statement issued by his office Monday.
Hughes, an attorney at the Atlantic City office of law firm Cooper Levenson, said he could not comment on specific clients.
“I am proud of the work that Cooper Levenson has performed on behalf of countless families and small and medium sized business throughout New Jersey. The firm does truly exceptional work,” Hughes said in a telephone interview.
Republican critics, he said, “want to ignore the fact that I was a federal prosecutor and an attorney for the United States Department of Justice for over seven years and the work that I had done in fighting crime and on behalf of people of Southern New Jersey.”
Andrews’ campaign paid $21,777 to Cooper Levenson in 2013, campaign filings show. Andrews’ campaign also donated $2,500 to Hughes' campaign.
“It’s not the least bit surprising that Bill Hughes Jr. would be the lawyer for a Congressman who is resigning in the midst of a pending ethics investigation,” said Ian Prior, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Hughes Jr. has made quite a bit of money representing a laundry list of unsavory clients.”
Pulling information from Hughes’ profile on his law firm Website, the GOP has attacked him for representing one client who pled guilty to participating in a racketeering ring, and another who pled guilty in a “large tax fraud scheme,” among others.
Hughes pointed out that the incumbent, LoBiondo, praised Andrews on the day the Congressman announced his impending resignation.
“I’ve enjoyed serving with Congressman Andrews,” LoBiondo said in a news release Tuesday. “I’ve always found Rob to be a willing partner and tireless legislator … his absence from Congress as an advocate for New Jersey’s interests will truly be felt."
Hughes said, “everybody has a right to an attorney, even senior staff members of the NRCC.”
Andrews has also paid more than $200,000 to Stanley Brand, considered one of the top attorneys in the country when it comes to ethics entanglements.