Sen. Bob Menendez indicted on criminal corruption charges
2 April, 2015
March 6 [Holder has signed off on criminal corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez.]
Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with criminal corruption charges against Senator Bob Menendez. The government’s case centers on Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.
In 2006, According to the New York Times, Kean was defeated for Senator in part because he “built a campaign around his portrayal of Mr. Menendez as a shady, self-dealing, machine-produced Hudson County boss who hangs out with criminals.” He has become one of the Obama administration’s most vocal Democratic opponents on two key foreign policy matters — President Obama’s decision to ease the trade embargo against Cuba and also his effort to engage direct negotiations with Iran over that country’s nuclear program.
Investigators have focused in part on plane trips Menendez took in 2010 to the Dominican Republic as a guest of Melgen. In 2013, after word of the federal investigation became public, Menendez paid back Melgen $58,000 for the 2010 plane trips calling his failure to properly disclose the flights an “oversight.” Menendez has denied any wrongdoing in his ties to Melgen. “As we have said before, we believe all of Senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that,” Menendez spokesperson Tricia Enright said in a statement Friday. “Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”
Menendez advocated on Melgen’s behalf with federal Medicare administrators who accused Melgen of overbilling the government’s healthcare program, according to court documents and people briefed on the probe. Melgen was among the top recipients of Medicare reimbursements in recent years, during a time when he was also a major Democratic donor. Melgen’s attorneys have denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors also are focusing on whether Menendez broke the law in advocating for Melgen’s business interest in a Dominican Republic government contract for a port screening equipment. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, at the time, considered donating port screening equipment to the Dominican Republic, which would have hurt the contract of Melgen-controlled company.