In a headline today NJ.com asks the question, “How has Menendez Indictment Affected His Senate Duties?” The story details how Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is acting if nothing is wrong, and quotes NLPC Chairman (not executive director) Ken Boehm:
A leading Menendez critic said he had no problem with the senator's efforts to carry on as if he did not face criminal charges.
"Defendants can act anyway they want," said Ken Boehm, executive director of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Falls Church, Va.-based watchdog group. "I take almost an attitude of, 'It's a free country, he's a free man, he's innocent until proven guilty.' At the end of the day, that's not going to change the driving forces behind the indictment."
Lawyers for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently asked that several of the counts in the indictment be thrown out because the investigation started after “unproven allegations” that Menendez has sex with underage prostitutes.
In response, the government says it has “corroborated” evidence of this misconduct, even though Menendez was not criminally charged with it. Paul Mulshine of The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, has a good account of this legal misstep.
Whether one sees New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as confronting or punting, it’s hard to deny he knows a crisis when he sees one. The State Supreme Court sees one as well. On June 9, the Court ruled 5-2 that Christie was within bounds in delaying two years of contributions, nearly $2.5 billion, to the state’s chronically underfunded public-employee pension system. The ruling, a clear blow to the unions who brought forth the suit, for now averts a fiscal calamity. Critics claim that Christie, expected shortly to enter the Republican presidential race, broke a law he signed in 2011, passing the buck to his successors. Supporters counter that the ruling gives the legislature breathing room to fix a condition resulting from years of excessive union contract demands. The latter is a familiar story in other states, too.
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.
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.
New York TV station NBC 4 reported today that the federal criminal probe of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez is expanding:
The Department of Justice is investigating Menendez's efforts on behalf of two fugitive bankers from Ecuador, multiple current and former U.S, officials tell NBC 4 New York. The probe into Menendez's dealing with the bankers comes as federal authorities are also investigating his relationship to a big campaign donor from Florida.
The donor is Salomon Melgen, Menendez' largest contributor. In 2012, Melgen contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez' re-election. The report notes:
A Newark nonprofit tied to associates of Cory Booker acted as a clearinghouse for lucrative construction contracts in exchange for donations to his charity and mayoral campaign, The Post has learned.
The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp., founded in 2005 to buy land for the Prudential Center and develop the surrounding area, has not completed its mission and had doled out multimillion-dollar contracts to companies that made donations to Booker's pet causes.
The Washington Post today reports that a federal grand jury is investigating Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) for pushing a Dominican port security deal that would have meant a windfall for Dr. Salomon Melgen, a major donor. The post security deal was first reported in the New York Times on February 1, based on information provided by NLPC.
Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Peter Wallsten cited unnamed sources for the existence of the grand jury and a related investigation. According to the story:
The only problem with this story line is that the New York Times approached us shortly before the January 29 FBI raid on Melgen's eye practice in Florida and asked us if we had any information on Melgen. We did not seek to place it with any news organization because there was (and is) even more to the story, and we were (and are) still researching it.
Yesterday, NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm questioned Senator Robert Menendez' veracity after his office claimed that he did not know that his ex-aide Pedro Pablo Permuy (in photo) was involved with ICCSI, a company partly owned by his mega-donor Salomon Melgen. Menendez sought to pressure administration officials to support a contract for port security in the Dominican Republic that would have provided a windfall for Melgen.
Sen. Bob Menendez's ties to a former Miami aide who could benefit from a controversial overseas port contract, which the Democrat pushed for, extend to an international business group that last year feted Spain's king and the U.S. secretary of state.