Tennessee GOP congressman was ‘mistaken’ on college degree

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles says he was “mistaken” when he said he graduated with an international relations degree after a local news outlet raised questions over whether the Republican had embellished his education.

Ogles said this week he wasn’t made aware of the mistake until he requested his transcript from Middle Tennessee State University to verify his degree.

“When I pulled my transcript to verify, I realized I was mistaken. My degree is in Liberal Studies. I apologize for my misstatement,” Ogles said in a statement released Sunday.

Earlier this month, Nashville-based WTVF-TV reported that Ogles has also called himself an “economist” even though he only took one community college economics course. The station then raised questions over Ogles’ claims that he has law enforcement experience and handled “international sex crimes.”

When asked directly by WWTN’s Dan Mandis on Feb. 21 if the congressman had embellished his resume, Ogles said that people should “look at the body of someone’s work” to determine if he’s an economist.

“I had the privilege in my career, I’ve spent the last decade working on economic policy and tax policy, so you decide. At the end of the day, I don’t care,” he said.

Ogles then clarified that he was reserve deputy for a local law enforcement agency, which overlapped with his time working for Abolition International — a Nashville-based nonprofit that combats sex trafficking.

“Maybe I created some of the confusion or maybe it was someone looking to write a story,” Ogles said.

Ogles’ statement released Sunday only addressed his college education, which he said he had to drop out of MTSU to help his family “during a difficult time.” He later returned as a “non-traditional student” and completed his remaining courses online.

“At the time, it was my understanding I had completed my course of study in Political Science and International Relations,” Ogles said. “Last week, I requested an official copy of my transcript and learned that I was actually awarded a broader degree in Liberal Studies with minors in Political Science and English.”

The controversy comes after U.S. Rep. George Santos of New York has faced numerous calls for his resignation after acknowledging he fabricated, and at times lied, about parts of his education, work experience and even his family’s own religion and history.

Ogles, a former rural county mayor, won the Nashville-based congressional seat last year after largely avoiding the public spotlight and refusing to debate his Democratic opponent.

The strategy was successful largely due to the GOP-led redistricting process, which carved Nashville’s congressional seat into three districts. Doing so provided enough cushion for a Republican to win.

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