College Republican Arrested, Claims Setup

Jeremy Aldrich -- November 11th, 2010

Andrew Jones, a local Republican activist, was arrested yesterday for allegedly stealing credit cards from several JMU students and using them at Harrisonburg area stores, but he insists that he is innocent and that he was “setup” by the alleged victims because of his sexual orientation.

According to The Breeze, Andrew Lewis Jones was arrested yesterday morning at his home in Broadway and charged with 33 counts of credit card theft, forgery and fraud.

Jones, however, said in a private message that he would “never steal from anyone”.  He believes that some College Republican members set him up to appear guilty because he is gay, which he has not previously made public.

He denied The Breeze’s report that he was a “student impersonator” who is not really enrolled at James Madison University, writing, “I wouldn’t have a JAC card or JMU e-mail if I wasn’t a student.”

Jones was an intern for the Bob McDonnell gubernatorial campaign in 2009 and was Deputy Campaign Manager for Tony Wilt‘s bid for House of Delegates earlier this year. McDonnell and Wilt are among many Republican politicians who have opposed including homosexuals in state discrimination laws.

Initial rumors about the arrest indicated that it was for ballot tampering or some other form of election fraud.  Jones himself says “I thought when they arrested me it was for voter fraud. I was shocked to find out that wasn’t [the reason].”  In a public Facebook note about his arrest, Jones wrote: “I am aware of election fraud that took place, and I will bring this issue to the eye of the public as soon as the timing is right.”

UPDATE: Jones’ Facebook account was deleted sometime early Thursday morning.

UPDATE 2 (11/11 8:21pm): JMU College Republicans have released a statement denying Jones’ claims.

Jones, 18, said he dropped out of JMU last night and will transfer to another school, citing the school’s culture of underage drinking as one reason he felt he didn’t fit in.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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