WSJ Editorial Wrong About Menendez Indictment

It’s been almost a month since the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial titled “The Menendez Indictment.”  We responded in a letter to the editor that has not been published. It’s a safe bet it never will be, so we post it here.

The Journal got to the point in its opening paragraph:

Ill-defined federal laws now reach into virtually every sphere of human behavior, and thus prosecutors can destroy almost anyone they choose. The recent indictment of Senator Robert Menendez on 14 counts of corruption and “honest services” fraud is a troubling case in point that deserves more than a little skepticism.

Here’s our response:

To the Editor:

The Journal argues that prosecutors have “no evidence” of crimes by Senator Robert Menendez (“The Menendez Indictment,” op-ed, April 16) and points out that the large donations from his chief benefactor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, were “legal and disclosed.”

You

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Baltimore Violence is Obama’s Failed Legacy on Race

As our first African-American president, Barack Obama had the opportunity to personify the final triumph of civil rights, and in the process, become a celebrated and historic figure. Instead, his ironic legacy on race is one of abject failure, as the rioting and looting in Baltimore underscore. The tragic reality is that Obama passed on the opportunity to the “post-racial” president he promised to be when he first ran in 2008.

Instead, he farmed out leadership on racial issues to Al Sharpton, for whom grievance is like oxygen. The prejudgment of George Zimmerman, and related fury, set the stage for Ferguson, which was followed by the murder of New York City police officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Now Baltimore looks like a scene from 1968, with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake having no problem appearing with Sharpton on Thursday, an implicit endorsement of the violence, or at least, the Obama/Holder version … Read More ➡

Congress Asked to Stop GM From Writing Off Ignition Switch Victim Compensation Costs

Today I sent this letter to Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):

We strongly urge you to re-introduce legislation similar to the Government Settlement Transparency Reform Act (S.1654) in the 113th Congress.

As you know, the death toll from General Motors’ failure to act on an ignition switch defect continues to climb, now at 87. Although GM's decision to create a fund to compensate victims and their families is a step in the right direction, we are troubled by GM’s ability to write off the cost as an expense for federal tax purposes.

Because of the government-directed bankruptcy and restructuring, GM is now shielded from much of its liability incurred beforehand. In order to ensure at least some semblance of accountability, Congress must make sure that GM’s future payouts for its recklessness are not simply the cost of doing business.

As the families of GM's victims have emphasized, no … Read More ➡

Senator Robert Menendez Indicted

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted this afternoon on 8 counts of bribery, 3 counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the travel act, and one count of making false statements. His largest political backer, Dr. Salomon Melgen (in photo on left) was also charged by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey.

The indictments were the result of a lengthy federal investigation that was initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Melgen, and that Menendez pressured government officials to further Melgen’s interests in 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.

The port security deal and … Read More ➡

Heath Care Task Force Showed Hillary’s Penchant for Secrecy

hillary health careOnly time will tell just how damaging the current email controversy is to Hillary Clinton. But looking back, it was the same penchant for secrecy, and disregard for rules that others must follow, that doomed her attempt to overhaul the nation’s health care system in the early Nineties, the most ambitious project of her life next to running for president.

NLPC was a plaintiff in the successful 1993 lawsuit to open the meetings and records of the task force. A good historical account of the task force, and the fight over its proposals, can be found in a 1996 book titled The First Lady: A Comprehensive View of Hillary Rodham Clinton, that I co-wrote with my brother Timothy. Here is Chapter Nine titled “Health Care:”

Calling it a tour-de-force would be an understatement. There she was, the First Lady of the United States with the media and the entire … Read More ➡

NASCAR Asked to End Sharpton Support in Wake of Ferguson Police Shootings

I have sent this letter to Brian France, Chief Executive Office of NASCAR:

We ask that NASCAR end its financial support of Al Sharpton and his organization, the National Action Network (NAN). 

According to programs for the NAN national convention, NASCAR has served as a sponsor of the event in recent years, which is Sharpton’s primary annual fundraising event.

The cold-blooded murder of two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, followed weeks of Sharpton’s vilification of law enforcement personnel. Now two police officers have been gunned down in Ferguson, Missouri.

This is not the first time that violence and loss of life have followed Sharpton’s agitation, such as in the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the 1995 Freddy’s Fashion Mart incident. Sharpton’s involvement in these and other abhorrent episodes, such as the Tawana Brawley hoax, are a matter of record.

I have enclosed a new book … Read More ➡

Sharpton Documents Lost in Mysterious Fires

Today at National Review Online, Jillian Kay Melchior revisits two mysterious fires at Al Sharpton’s offices, in 1997 and 2003. In both, important documents were allegedly destroyed. Melchior deserves credit for going back so far, reexamining fire department reports, and actually finding people close to the incidents.

Her very detailed story describes two Complaints filed by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) with the Federal Election Commission that reference the fires, and Sharpton’s general disdain for filings and disclosures required of nonprofit organizations and political campaigns. From the article:

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) filed two complaints with the FEC, helping trigger an investigation into Sharpton’s presidential campaign. The FEC later found that both National Action Network and other entities had illegally paid for travel expenses incurred by Sharpton’s campaign, in part because “Sharpton 2004 kept poor records of its activities and expenditures.”

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Taking the Bait on Menendez Story

Commentators on both the Left and the Right are suggesting that the impending indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is retribution against Menendez for his recent criticisms of Obama administration foreign policy. While we concur that almost everything that Attorney General Eric Holder does is tainted by politics, a few points about the Menendez case are in order:

1) The reported charges against Menendez, that he tried to interfere with a Medicare fraud investigation of his largest donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, and that he went to bat for Melgen in the Dominican Republic port security deal, were not cooked up by the political operation at the White House.

The Medicare investigation was initiated by the anti-fraud unit of HHS. (Melgen was the biggest recipient of Medicare reimbursement in the whole country in 2012). The port security deal was uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center. We broke the story … Read More ➡

Senator Robert Menendez Facing Criminal Indictment?

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 … Read More ➡

Harry Reid’s ‘Pay-to-Play’ Green Energy Project

Lachlan Markay of the Washington Free Beacon website today details the saga of something called the Clean Energy Project. Founded and staffed by for former aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the nonprofit collected donations from corporations which received hundreds of millions in federal grants and loan guarantees at Reid’s urging. From the article:

Their donations to the CEP suggest “a vehicle to promote pay-to-play politics,” says Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, an ethics watchdog group.

“It is run by Reid insiders, funded by those who want Reid’s political favors, and there’s a track record of Reid dispensing favors to those who fund it,” Boehm said in an email. “As the late Senator [Sam] Ervin said, sometimes things are what they look like.”

Also from the article:

Rebecca Lambe, Reid’s top political strategist who has been directed by Reid to take the lead

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