Sen. Bob Menendez will face criminal corruption charges. CNN reported the Department of Justice is bringing charges against Menendez for using his office to promote the business interests of a donor and friend. Menendez allegedly received gifts for his efforts.
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on prosecutors’ request to press charges against the Democratic sentator from New Jersey. Prosecutors have been working quickly to charge Menendez because some of the allegations against him may soon pass their statute of limitations.
The case against Menendez will be a test for the Justice Department because it will gauge its ability to prosecute sitting lawmakers. The case has already started another legal battle — key evidence against Menendez may be protected by the Constitution’s Speech and Debate clause.
The FBI wants to question Menendez’s former aides about his meetings and calls related to political donor Salomon Melgen’s fight against the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a federal agency. Some aides have refused to testify. The government is trying to use emails from Menendez’s office in the case against him.
In 2012, Menendez allegedly promoted Melgen’s company ICSSI in a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that was discussing an issue with Dominican ports, although he did not mention the company by name.
Melgen is an ophthalmologist from Florida. Menendez has called him a friend and political supporter, and Melgen and his family have donated large sums of money to the senator. Committees that Menendez was associated with also reportedly benefited from Melgen's donations.
In 2010, Melgen reportedly took Menendez to the Dominican Republic several times. After an investigation into the trips became public, Menendez paid Melgen $58,000 and called his failure to disclose the flights an “oversight.”
Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and his representative has not commented on the pending charges.
In another inquiry, Menendez faced allegations that he solicited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and helped the Isaias Brothers, Ecuadorian banking magnates, gain permanent U.S. residency, which is illegal.
The FBI didn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing in relation to the Isaias brothers and all the prostitutes reportedly recanted their stories.
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