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March 06, 2015

Feds Preparing Criminal Corruption Charges Against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez

You may remember that Menendez took flights on a wealthy doctor's plane, often down to the Dominican Republican, and did not reimburse that doctor (that is, he took the flights as illegal gifts).

Reportedly he will be facing charges for working political favors in exchange for gifts.

People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors' request to proceed with charges, CNN has learned exclusively. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.

The case could pose a high-profile test of the Justice Department's ability to prosecute sitting lawmakers, having already spawned a legal battle over whether key evidence the government has gathered is protected by the Constitution's Speech and Debate clause.

The FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department's public integrity section, have pursued a variety of allegations against Menendez, who has called the probe part of "smear campaign" against him.

The government's case centers on Menendez's relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.

...

Menendez advocated on Melgen's behalf with federal Medicare administrators who accused Melgen of overbilling the government's healthcare program, according to court documents and people briefed on the probe. Melgen was among the top recipients of Medicare reimbursements in recent years, during a time when he was also a major Democratic donor. Melgen's attorneys have denied any wrongdoing.

Menendez also used US government pressure to lobby the Dominican Republic to give Melgen a huge contract for a port's cargo screening equipment. Why an opthamalogist is in the Port Screening Equipment Business I don't know.

One part of this story remains, I think, well debunked: The "underaged prostitutes" who accused Menendez may have been put up to it by other business interests (maybe other people in the apparently lucrative Port Screening Equipment industry).

Menendez has been the target of a federal grand jury since 2013.

I don't think the Conspiracy Angle makes sense, though I did wonder about it, but yes, if you're wondering, that's right, you do remember Menendez taking a high profile position against Barack Obama's Iran deal.

The Did-Obama-Do-This-For-Iran game is big this week. We talked about it on the podcast.



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posted by Ace at 02:22 PM

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