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REVEALED: Businessman, economist, cop, international sex crimes expert? The stories of Congressman Andy Ogles

Congressman places block on confirmation of educational credentials, but NewsChannel 5 digs up an old résumé
Posted: 11:19 AM, Feb 16, 2023
Updated: 2024-01-10 11:39:28-05
Andy Ogles headshot.jpeg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you believe Middle Tennessee's newest congressman, he's not only a businessman, he's also an economist, a nationally recognized expert in tax policy and health care, a trained police officer, even an expert in international sex crimes.

But an exclusive NewsChannel 5 investigation discovered that Andy Ogles' personal life story is filled with exaggerations, a story that's often too good to be true.

Not long after his election to Congress, the freshman Republican found himself in the middle of the drama over the House speaker — giving him a chance to introduce himself to a national audience.

Andy Ogles' stories: 'I'm an economist'

"Yeah, you know, I'm an economist," Ogles told a C-SPAN interviewer. Later, asked to name the committees to which he would like to be assigned, Ogles began: "So, I'm an economist."

On the TV show Washington Watch in January, he added to the claim: "I'm an economist. I worked in economics. I worked in health care."

Watch selected comments below:

Andy Ogles Economist

It was a claim Ogles began making on the campaign trail, beginning one answer in a Wilson County GOP debate by saying, "You know, as an economist..."

In his first meeting on the House Financial Services Committee, Ogles prefaced one question to a group of expert witnesses, referring to himself, "you know, as an economist..."

Yet, like some of the questions surrounding his controversial colleague, New York Congressman George Santos, there's little evidence that Ogles ever received any formal training in economics.

His congressional bio says he obtained a degree from Middle Tennessee State University, "where he studied policy and economics."

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Andy Ogles' congressional bio

Yet, the school refused to confirm Ogles' degree, citing a provision of federal law that allows students to block the release of their educational credentials.

So why would Congressman Ogles not want Tennessee voters to be able to verify that he is who he claims to be?

"I would think that if he has a block that there must be something wrong," said state Sen. Heidi Campbell, a Nashville Democrat who lost to Ogles in a campaign in a district that Republicans redrew to help their own candidate.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates checked and, back in 2002, Ogles' website claimed he had "studied foreign policy and the constitution" at Western Kentucky University and Middle Tennessee State.

There was no mention of economics.

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Excerpt from 2002 website

Western Kentucky says when he was there from fall of 1990 to fall of 1993, Ogles actually majored in English and Allied Language Arts.

In response to NewsChannel 5's questions, Ogles released an image of a diploma for a bachelor of science degree from Middle Tennessee State in 2007, when he was 36.

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Ogles' MTSU diploma

But what we discovered next surprised the candidate Ogles defeated.

"Wow, wow. Oh, my gosh," Campbell exclaimed.

It was a résumé from 2009 — two years after he graduated from MTSU — where he listed a degree in international relations, with minors in psychology and English.

And likewise, he detailed the same information on a form for a background check — in his own writing — with no mention of economics.

"I mean, that looks to me like somebody who doesn't have any background in economics," Campbell said.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates followed up, "What does that say about his claims?"

"You know, I'm not surprised," she answered. "If you really dig into him and what he's done, you're probably going to find there's a lot more where this came from."

Andy Ogles' stories: 'Nationally recognized expert'

Ogles touts his connection to supply-side economist Arthur Laffer.

His LinkedIn resume shows he once worked as "executive director" for the Laffer Center — not as an economist. That job appears to have been an administrative position. A search of the center's website shows no economic reports authored by Ogles.

The congressman's website also claims that "while working at the Laffer Center, Andy became a nationally recognized expert on tax policy and healthcare, having been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily."

But a search of those sites shows only three columns he wrote, in two cases with another person, when he was a lobbyist for the conservative Americans for Prosperity — nothing independently citing him as an expert.

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Publications by Andy Ogles

All three were published before he went to work at the Laffer Center.

"It might be a bit more credible if a news organization had called him and quoted him on the basis that he was a national expert," said MTSU political science professor John Vile.

Vile noted that the publications of those columns — like one predicting the imminent demise of Obamacare — might not have that much to do with Ogles' personal credentials.

"When you publish an article like this and it's under the name of your organization, you might be publishing it as much because it reflects the views of the organization as because it reflects the particular expertise of the writer," Vile explained.

Andy Ogles' stories: 'Former member of law enforcement'

Then, there are Ogles' claims to be a trained police officer and international sex crimes expert.

During one GOP debate, the candidate prefaced one answer "as a former member of law enforcement, worked in international sex crimes, specifically child trafficking...."

Watch selected comments below:

Andy Ogles Crimefighter

In another forum, he claimed, "You know, my midlife crisis, I went into law enforcement. I worked in human trafficking."

Interviewed on C-SPAN after he took office in Congress, Ogles spoke about human trafficking over the Southern border, claiming: "This is from firsthand experience of someone who worked in that space. I turned gray because of it."

Again, on the night of the State of the Union, he told C-SPAN, "You know, part of my career, I worked in human trafficking."

In fact, our investigation found Ogles was sworn in as a volunteer reserve deputy with the Williamson County Sheriff's Office in July 2009.

Records show he lost that position two years later for not meeting minimum standards, making no progress in field training and failure to attend required meetings.

"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," Williamson County sheriff's spokesperson Sharon Puckett told NewsChannel 5.

Andy Ogles' stories: Human trafficking expert

Ogles did some work in 2011 for Abolition International, a non-profit founded by gospel artist Natalie Grant.

His congressional website claims Ogles, as chief operating officer, was responsible for "overseeing operations and investments in 12 countries."

"I began working volunteering my time," Ogles said on Washington Watch. "Then I ended up becoming chief operating officer. It was just one of those I didn't really intend to set out to be so heavily involved in the fight against human trafficking. It just kinda occurred."

Privately, people associated with the group dispute Ogles' characterization of his role, although they were reluctant to get into a war of words with a member of Congress.

In fact, the group's tax returns show Ogles held a part-time position that paid him a grand total of $4,000.

"Wow," Heidi Campbell said, "that does not sound to me like somebody who was the COO."

An archived version of the group's website shows it was making grants to "holistic ministries" in just a handful of countries — not 12 countries — and certainly not busting international sex rings nor rescuing human trafficking victims.

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Abolition International map, 2011

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Campbell, "If this information had come out, would it have made any difference?"

"Yeah, I think it might have," the Nashville Democrat responded.

But just as Ogles largely avoided the media during his campaign, he also ignored our questions about his questionable claims.

NewsChannel 5 sent an email to Congressman Ogles' press secretary, laying out our findings and giving them a chance to respond.

We heard nothing.

We also reached out to Dr. Laffer, who has criticized others who don't actually have degrees, especially doctorates, in economics.

Again, we did not hear back.

Campbell said it should be a wake-up call for all Americans.

"My election is over, and I've moved on with that — that's fine. But I do think going forward people need to know who they are electing."

Related stories:

Andy Ogles, graduate of respected business schools? Not really

Freshman GOP congressman ignores federal disclosure law

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