Rep. Andy Ogles, R-Tenn., said this week he misspoke about the degree he received from Middle Tennessee State University, an admission that comes amid ongoing scrutiny that he has embellished his credentials and work experience.
Ogles said he graduated from MTSU with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, not the international relations degree he cited in public conversations during appearances throughout his career as mayor of Maury County, his campaign for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District seat and now in his time in the U.S. House.
Ogles is facing backlash over his background amid multiple reports from NewsChannel 5 raising questions about his educational and work history. Ogles has called himself an economist and has said he has a background in law enforcement where he fought against international sex trafficking crimes. The media outlet’s reports say there is little evidence to back up Ogles’ claims.
In response, Ogles issued a statement on Sunday, partially addressing the criticism.
“I previously stated that my degree from MTSU was in International Relations. 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 issued by his communications director.
“During my senior year of college, I transferred to MTSU to pursue a degree in Political Science and International Relations. Due to an interfamilial matter, I dropped out of college and returned home to financially support my family during a difficult time. Though leaving school was a difficult decision, it was the right one. I would do the same thing again today, even though withdrawing left several incomplete grades that would ultimately be registered as failing.”
But in the mid-2000s, Ogles said he finished his final semester at MTSU through the school’s distance learning program, in an effort to “set an example for our daughter, demonstrating the importance of finishing what you start.”
Ogles completed coursework in order to obtain the undergraduate degree. Ogles’ office first gave the statement to the conservative Tennessee Star.
“At the time, it was my understanding I had completed my course of study in Political Science and International Relations,” he 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.”
Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District was a longtime Democratic stronghold, including all of Davidson County. But the Tennessee General Assembly’s Republican supermajority redrew the district into GOP-friendly territory. The new district includes parts of Davidson, Williamson and Wilson counties, along with rural Lewis, Maury and Marshall counties.
Ogles defeated five other Republicans in the Aug. 4 primary and defeated Democrat Heidi Campbell in the Nov. 8 election, flipping the seat Republican.
Since then, Ogles has made headlines. He faced criticism from fellow Republicans when he opposed the nomination of Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., as House speaker. Ogles voted against McCarthy for nearly a dozen rounds of voting and was captured on video in a heated exchange with McCarthy.
Related:US Rep.-elect Andy Ogles opposes McCarthy’s speakership bid joining other hardline conservatives
Before Ogles headed to Washington, he left a few seared bridges with his hometown Republican Party, when he withdrew from the Maury County mayoral race so close to the withdrawal deadline that the party was unable to choose another Republican nominee in the Maury County General Election.
Ogles drew a wide and loyal Republican following in Maury County when he resisted government mandates, opposed mask requirements and said he’d rather “go to jail” for his constituents rather than adhere to federal overreach during the pandemic.
During Ogles tenure as a one-term mayor before running for Congress, he traveled across Tennessee speaking before civic clubs and local Republican parties about his conservative views, rooted in upholding the state and U.S. Constitution.
Kerri Bartlett is editor of The Daily Herald.