Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) continues to face scrutiny over his ties to controversial Democratic donor Dr. Salomon Melgen. A new report raises questions about contributions Melgen made to local Democratic committees prior to the November elections.
Roll Call reports:
Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen has given more than $1 million directly and indirectly to Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and committees supporting him over the course of their friendship, new disclosures show.
His West Palm Beach, Fla., company, Melgen Vitreo Retinal Eye Center, donated a combined $103,500 to the Democratic Party committees in four New Jersey counties in the weeks leading up to the November election, the Newark Star-Ledger has reported.
The Star-Ledger quotes Union County Democratic Chairwoman Charlotte DeFilippo saying that, having been told her committee needed additional funds, Menendez “said he’d see what he could do, and I received a check.”
The $103,500 was spread across Democratic committees in Camden, Essex, Passaic, and Union County.
According to Roll Call, New Jersey does not ban all corporate campaign contributions. The committees of political parties are allowed to raise corporate donations, but only for “limited purposes, such as voter registration.” Federal regulations allow this, but campaign finance laws still prohibit federal candidates and officials from actively imploring these types of funds.
It is unclear if Menendez violated any federal regulations to procure the money DeFilippo or the other committees received. As Roll Call reported:
“If he actually asked Melgen for this money for these local party committees, it’s a violation of the [Federal Election Campaign Act],” said Brett Kappel, counsel at Arent Fox. “And because of the amount of money involved, it’s a significant violation.”