Yet Another Manic Fabricator Unmasked Among House GOP Freshmen
Television station WTVF's Phil Williams has reported that Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles appears to have fabricated large portions of his life, with Williams writing that the freshman Republican has claimed to be "an economist, a nationally recognized expert in tax policy and health care, a trained police officer, even an expert in international sex crimes"— none of which appears to be true. Ogles won his first term last year in a newly gerrymandered Middle Tennessee district, and he went on to oppose Kevin McCarthy for speaker on 11 straight ballots before finally falling into line.
During last year's primary, Ogles presented himself "as a former member of law enforcement" in a debate, saying he'd "worked in international sex crimes, specifically child trafficking." He also made similar claims during the campaign and in his first weeks in office.
But Williams explains that the only law enforcement background Ogles had was his brief service as a volunteer reserve deputy in the Williamson County Sheriff's Office starting in 2009―a gig that ended just two years later after he failed to meet the minimum requirements for participation or even attend meetings. A spokesperson for the sheriff added, "There is nothing in Mr. Ogles' training or personnel file that indicates he had any involvement in 'international sex trafficking' in his capacity as a reserve deputy."
Williams also found that, while the congressman has claimed to have "oversee[n] operations and investments in 12 countries" as the chief operating officer of a group that works to stop human trafficking, his tax returns show he was paid all of $4,000 for part-time work. There's also no evidence that Ogles ever received an education in economics or worked as an economist. However, unlike fellow first-term Republican fabricators George Santos and Anna Paulina Luna, it appears that Ogles has not claimed to be Jewish.
Williams wasn't the first Tennessee journalist to question Ogles. In late January, the Tennessee Lookout's Sam Stockard reported that Ogles claimed to be a graduate of Vanderbilt University's Owen Graduate School of Management when records show he actually went through the school's executive education program. Those two programs may sound similar but they're nothing alike. "Participants in the short-term, non-degree programs typically receive a certificate, according to a Vanderbilt spokesman," wrote Stockard. "In other words, he probably attended a few hours of lectures and got a piece of paper."
State Sen. Heidi Campbell, the Democrat Ogles defeated 56-42 last year, also says she had some idea about her opponent's other alleged lies, specifically his supposed law enforcement background, but none of these stories surfaced during the primary, where Ogles defeated former state House Speaker Beth Harwell 35-25, nor in the general.
Ogles' campaign finances are also a shambles. The month after his win, the Federal Election Commission threatened to audit the incoming congressman over his fundraising reports; among other things, he failed to properly identify donors and recorded accepting multiple contributions over the legal $2,900 limit. Williams further reported last month that Ogles has alsofailed to file the personal financial disclosures that all federal candidates are required to submit.
Campbell now argues that she might have won had her opponent's alleged fabrications emerged during the campaign, though Tennessee Republicans last year did everything they could to make sure that any Republican would win the Fifth District. While Nashville's Davidson County had been contained in a single congressional district since the 1950s, the GOP's new gerrymander divided it between three different constituencies and immediately transformed the 5th District from safely blue to solidly red.
Veteran Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper decided to retire right after his seat morphed from a 60-37 Biden district to one Trump carried 54-43, and Ogles went on to beat Campbell in a race that almost everyone agreed would be an easy GOP pickup. Ogles' victory, as well as the successful re-election campaigns of fellow Republican Reps. John Rose and Mark Green, ensured that Nashville would be represented by Republicans for the first time since Horace Harrison left office in 1875 after losing his bid for another term.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.