Bob Menendez Spends Millions on Lawyers as Campaign Donations Dry Up

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February 1, 2024

Democratic senator Robert Menendez (N.J.) refunded more campaign donations than he took in during the final quarter of 2023, while forking out millions of dollars to lawyers defending him against bribery and foreign agent charges.

Menendez's campaign paid $2,329,000 to five law firms representing him in the federal case, according to a campaign finance report submitted this week. He raised just $15,795 during the quarter and refunded $16,200 to donors—more than half of the $30,000 Menendez doled out to fundraising consultants during the quarter.

The filing suggests Menendez is using his campaign war chest as little more than a legal defense fund. A federal grand jury in Manhattan indicted Menendez and his wife on Sept. 22, 2023, on charges that they accepted bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, and a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for political favors for a New Jersey real estate developer and Egyptian intelligence operatives. Menendez, 69, allegedly provided the Egyptians with non-public information that he received as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Menendez, who faces Rep. Andy Kim (N.J.) and New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy in the Democratic primary, has refused calls from other Democrats to resign from office or drop his bid for another term. He has pleaded not guilty and in a defiant speech on the Senate floor last month claimed he is the target of a politically motivated investigation.

Menendez still has plenty of loot in the bank. He started the quarter with $8 million and ended with $6 million, according to the campaign filing. Menendez has a separate legal defense fund that has raised just shy of $500,000 since July. The legal fund has paid $46,000 to the law firm of controversial Democratic campaign lawyer Marc Elias, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

Menendez has still found a way to enjoy the finer things in life, even as he faces up to 20 years in prison.

His campaign spent $827 at the St. Regis Bahia resort in Puerto Rico during an annual fundraiser organized by Menendez's political action committee, New Millennium PAC, the campaign filing shows.

The fundraiser appears to have been a bust. The PAC raised $44,000 in the quarter but spent more than $100,000 in lodging expenses at the Ritz-Carlton in Puerto Rico for the event.