The Department of Justice is reportedly set to file corruption charges against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat and vocal critic of President Obama.
The government is accusing Menendez of using his office to help a Florida donor and friend in exchange for gifts, CNN reported.
The investigation, which began in 2012, came to a head recently, when Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on the prosecutor’s request to formally charge the senator, according to CNN.
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.
Investigators have focused in part on plane trips Menendez took in 2010 to the Dominican Republic as a guest of Melgen. In 2013, after word of the federal investigation became public, Menendez paid back Melgen $58,000 for the 2010 plane trips calling his failure to properly disclose the flights an “oversight.”
Menendez is a rare Democrat who has made his disapproval of the Obama administration known, most recently for negotiating with Iran over nuclear weapons and normalizing relations with Cuba.
The timing of the charges wasn’t lost on the National Review’s contributing editor, Jim Geraghty, who tweeted:
Amazing timing, that DOJ nails Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., right after he becomes the loudest critic of Obama’s Iran deal.
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) March 6, 2015
Jeryl Bier, a conservative blogger and contributor for The Weekly Standard, added this:
@jimgeraghty Not to mention Cuba. http://t.co/DtGRs9ju2a
— Jeryl Bier (@JerylBier) March 6, 2015
Then the snark followed:
@jimgeraghty @20committee the senator that speaks out gets hammered down with corruption charges – old Japanese proverb
— Justin Ove (@mployedwriter) March 6, 2015
@jimgeraghty Good. Now Americans will hear the real truth about this administration. Pres. V. Jarrett, VP Susan Rice Treasury Al Sharpton
— donna ross (@iiarwatch) March 6, 2015
Menendez, a Cuban-American, is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and once served as its chairman. He chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2009 to 2011, and is arguably the Senate’s most powerful Hispanic member.
Menendez continues to deny any wrongdoing.
“As we have said before, we believe all of Senator’s actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that,” Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright said in a statement Friday. “Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason.”
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