Republican Andy Ogles after being declared the winner in Tennessee's 5th Congressional District party primary in Franklin, Tenn, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)
House Republicans keep running into the problem of embellished resumes and—oddly—sketchy GoFundMe fundraisers. Tennessee Republican Rep. Andy Ogles reportedly raised more than $23,000 on the fundraising platform in 2014, pledging to use the money to build a children’s burial ground named for his stillborn child. The burial ground was never built, however, and Ogles won’t say what he did with the money, according to Nashville TV station WTVF.
This is on top of New York Rep. George Santos’ own GoFundMe problems, which are reportedly under investigation by the FBI. Ogles is one of the most right-wing members of the GOP caucus that won back the House last November. After winning a primary that virtually secured election in his safe Republican district last year, Ogles said his campaign was animated by a “political war, a cultural war, and… spiritual war” against the left. Following his election, he participated in the hard-right rebellion against Kevin McCarthy that delayed McCarthy’s ascent to the House speakership by several days and heavily limited his leverage to buck the far-right of his caucus on tough votes. In February, WTVF reported that Ogles had blatantly embellished his resume, describing himself as an “economist” when he had no formal academic training in economics. He also described himself as a member of law enforcement specializing in “international sex crimes,” when in reality he spent two years as a voluntary reserve sheriff’s deputy in Tennessee.
Last month Ogles admitted to embellishing his academic credentials, saying he was “mistaken” as to which degree he graduated with. But he’s now facing new scrutiny over the fundraiser for the burial ground, which he launched in 2014. At the time, Ogles—who is listed as the organizer of the fundraiser—said that Lincoln’s Place “will create a place for Lincoln’s new play friends as they wait in Heaven for their families.” He said families would bear no cost for the burial ground.“The burial garden will feature a life size statue of Jesus watching over the children, benches for families to sit while surrounded by flowers in the special garden for little ones who left us too soon,” the fundraiser said. The message to potential donors was signed by Ogles and his wife Monica. When the fundraiser closed, it had raised $23,565. GoFundMe confirmed in an email to VICE News that the money was dispersed to Ogles. In 2015, a year after the fundraiser ended, Ogles told the Tennessean that bureaucratic red tape had prevented them from building the burial garden, because “burials are heavily regulated.” Ogles’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News Thursday about where the money went. WTVF reported that it recently approached Ogles as he was leaving an event and asked him about the fundraiser, but he refused to comment.Santos was accused earlier this year of stealing money from a GoFundMe he started for a disabled veteran’s sick dog, which later died after not receiving treatment. The FBI reportedly interviewed the man last month, though no charges have been filed. Santos has vehemently denied stealing money from the GoFundMe, though he’s now under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for a variety of alleged wrongdoings, including sexual harassment and potential campaign finance violations. Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.