Menendez Shameless But Indictment Looms

In a headline today 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."

The indictments resulted from a federal investigation initiated after media reports that Menendez attempted to intervene to thwart a Medicare-fraud investigation of Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest donor, and that Menendez pressured …

Menendez Legal Move Backfires

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.

Menendez lawyers did not challenge the counts in the indictment based on Menendez advocacy of a port security deal in the Dominican Republic that would have provided a windfall for his biggest donor and co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen.

Mulshine also discusses the port deal and NLPC’s role in exposing it:

The guy who uncovered that was Tom Anderson of the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative-leaning ethics watchdog group. Interestingly enough, it was not NLPC but the liberal-leaning Citizens

N.J. Supreme Court Says ‘No’ to Unions; Allows Gov. Christie to Delay Pension Payments

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.

For several years, state employee pension systems have threatened to become a national …

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 …

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 …

Probe of Senator Robert Menendez Expanding?

Menendez photoNew 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:

Federal investigators have searched Dr. Melgen’s offices twice in connection with an $8 million Medicare billing dispute. Separately, they are looking into whether Sen. Menendez improperly advocated for the doctor in that dispute. They are also looking into whether the

Newark Mayor Cory Booker Linked to Pay-to-Play Scheme

Cory BookerThe New York Post reports today:

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.

Among those firms was the largest demolition company in New Jersey, which raked in $4.7 million from the nonprofit in 2007 and 2008.

The Post quotes NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm:

“The Newark Downtown Core Redevelopment Corp. was supposed to be a nonprofit that would help eliminate downtown blight, according to Mayor Cory Booker,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of ethics watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center. “Instead, the group was plagued with

Grand Jury Investigating New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez

Robert MenendezThe 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:

Last month, people with knowledge of the case said FBI agents were conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic and the United States concerning allegations against Menendez, including the role he played in advocating for the enforcement of the port-security contract.

The reporters point out:

Cases of political bribery are extremely hard to build and prove, according to ethics experts and public-corruption defense lawyers, and many such investigations

New York Times Came to Us For Info on Menendez, Not The Other Way Around

Lipton photoThe New York Times has an article today titled, “Inquiry of Democratic Senator Started With Partisan Push.” The story by Eric Lipton describes our success in getting media coverage for our original research about Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and his relationship with a major donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Lipton then states that to Menendez and his staff our work is “proof that the news media frenzy focusing on his actions to help a Florida eye doctor is at least in part a political smear.”

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.…

Sen. Menendez Denial on Permuy is ‘Howler of the Day’

Permuy photoYesterday, 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.

In a Miami Herald story today, Marc Caputo reports:

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.

Menendez and Pedro Pablo Permuy hold high-level posts on the United States-Spain Council, funded by major special interests — from ATT to Bacardi to Wal-Mart– as well as a little-known investment company of the

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