Senator Robert Menendez Indicted On Corruption Charges
— The Hill (@thehill) April 2, 2015
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has been federally indicted on corruption charges. The indictment alleges that Menendez used the power of his office to do inappropriate favors for a major campaign contributor and personal benefactor named Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen is a multimillionaire who became noteworthy by being number one in Medicare billing in 2012.
The indictment notes that Menendez helped Melgen by fighting Medicare for a reversal after the agency fined Melgen for overbilling, getting foreign visas for Melgen’s girlfriends, and trying to pressure the State Department to help Melgen keep a contract in the Dominican Republic. In exchange it is alleged that Menendez received campaign money from Melgen and, most problematically, free flights on Melgen’s private jet.
After the free flights became public Senator Menendez reimbursed Melgen for the trips at the cost of $58,000 initially. Later, Menendez conceded there had been more flights than he initially admitted and reimbursed Melgen an additional $11,250.
In a post-indictment press conference yesterday Menendez claimed he would not resign from office and would fight the charges. Many in the New Jersey Democratic Party expressed support for Menendez while both the Asbury Park Press and Newark Star-Ledger called on Menendez to resign.
If Senator Menendez is genuinely planning on entering a courtroom and not playing for a better deal he has a difficult task ahead of him. Count one of the indictment is a rather solid charge and claims “Robert Menendez and Salmon Melgen did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other… to commit an offense against the United States,” and that “Menendez concealed things of value he solicited and accepted by knowingly and willfully omitting them from the annual Financial Disclosure Reports he was statutorily required to complete under the Ethics in Government Act. Specifically, in reports Menendez filed between 2007 and 2012, he never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen.”
The evidence appears to show that to be true.