CNN is reporting that Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will be indicted on charges related to favors he provided to his largest campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Miami-area eye doctor.
The probe was reportedly initiated after media reports that Menendez intervened on Melgen's behalf with government officials regarding a Medicare billing dispute and a port security deal in the Dominican Republic. Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times first reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for the Dominican port security deal that would have resulted in a "highly lucrative windfall" for Melgen.
One of Melgen’s companies contributed $700,000 to Senate Majority PAC, a “super PAC” associated with now-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Most of the money was spent in New Jersey to re-elect Menendez in 2012.
In January 2014, Menendez disclosed that he accepted a third flight on a private jet owned by Melgen, in violation of Senate rules. In 2013, Menendez was forced to admit to that he accepted two flights from Melgen, valued at a total of $58,500. Those were round trips to the Dominican Republic, from Florida and New Jersey.
Menendez disclosed the first two flights only after they were reported in the media. At the time, his office asserted that there were no more flights. Menendez' failure to reimburse Melgen for the third flight was characterized as an "oversight," the same term his office used in reference to the first two flights.
Melgen’s medical practice has been raided twice by the FBI in an apparent investigation into Medicare fraud. In April 2014, the list of doctors receiving the most reimbursements from the government for treating Medicare patients was released for the first time ever. Topping the list for 2012 was Melgen, who received more than $20 million.
Last year, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm stated, “We do not believe that Menendez has fully disclosed the nature of his relationship with Melgen, nor are we convinced that the Senate Ethics Committee is serious. That leaves the Justice Department.”
A Menendez indictment will be a departure (that we welcome) for Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder, who has previously refused to prosecute sitting members of Congress.
Although Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) was Censured by the House and resigned his Chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee (based on information exposed by NLPC), the Justice Department failed to criminally prosecute Rangel, even though he admitted not paying his taxes and failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in income and assets on his disclosure forms.
Likewise, Holder failed to prosecute former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) after an extensive FBI investigation spanning several years. As exposed by NLPC through front-page articles in the Wall Street Journal, Mollohan's business partners benefitted personally from hundreds of millions of tax dollars Mollohan earmarked to nonprofit groups in his district. He also sought to conceal the arrangement by failing to disclose income and assets on his financial disclosure forms.
More recently, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has not been charged with any crime even though several of his close associates have been arrested and prosecuted, based on information first exposed by NLPC through the New York Times and the New York Post.
In photo: Salomon Melgen, Robert Menendez