Bob Menendez Spent Thousands To Retain Dem Super Lawyer Marc Elias and Hunter Biden's Firm

Democratic super lawyer Marc Elias and embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (Getty Images).
January 22, 2024

Many of Bob Menendez’s longtime Democratic allies have soured on the New Jersey senator amid his federal bribery case. But not Marc Elias, the controversial Democratic super lawyer whose firm took nearly $50,000 from the embattled senator’s legal fund.

Menendez’s legal defense fund paid $46,464 to Elias Law Group, according to disclosures obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. Menendez, who has been charged with bribery and illegal foreign lobbying, received $195,000 in contributions to his legal fund between October 1 through December 31. The fund paid $70,000 to Winston & Strawn, a white shoe law firm that also represents Hunter Biden. The legal fund paid $128,000 to Schertler & Onorato, a firm representing Menendez’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, according to the disclosure, which Menendez filed with the Senate Ethics Committee.

Elias’s work for Menendez is the latest example of the campaign lawyer’s hypocrisy. Elias portrays himself as a staunch defender of democracy—he runs an organization called "Democracy Docket"—but has been a major player in the Democratic Party’s attempts to influence elections through propaganda and disinformation. As attorney for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Elias commissioned the Steele dossier, which falsely accused former president Donald Trump of conspiring with Russia. Democrats peddled the dossier to journalists and the FBI in order to sway public opinion about Trump.

Last year, Elias called on former Rep. George Santos (R., N.Y.) to resign following federal campaign finance charges. Elias referred to Santos as a "crook" and asserted that Republicans who refused to force him out of office were "shameless." The House voted to remove Santos from office last month. Senate Democrats have resisted calls to do the same with Menendez.

This is not the first time Elias has represented Menendez in corruption cases. He represented the senator during a 2007 investigation into a Menendez-connected lobbyist. Elias also represented Menendez after the senator was charged in 2015 with doing favors on behalf of Democratic donor Salomon Melgen. Federal prosecutors dropped the case against Menendez in 2018 after a jury deadlocked.

While most Democrats stood by Menendez in those previous investigations, the recent case against him has stoked calls for his resignation. Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.), a longtime Menendez ally who donated to his legal fund in 2015, called on him to resign after his latest indictment over what he said were "shocking allegations of corruption."

Federal prosecutors allege Menendez did political favors for a New Jersey real estate developer and the Egyptian intelligence services in exchange for cash, gold bars, a Mercedes Benz, and other gifts. He allegedly tried to influence the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey in a case involving businessman Fred Daibes. Prosecutors charged Menendez with providing sensitive information to Egyptian spies in order to help his associate Wael Hana. Prosecutors indicted Menendez on additional charges this month for allegedly lobbying on behalf of the Qatari government.

Many longtime Menendez supporters contributed to his legal defense, filings show. New Jersey lawyer Donald Scarinci and Spanish-language media mogul Raúl Alarcón gave $10,000 each to Menendez, the maximum contribution allowed. Murray Kushner, the estranged uncle of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, also contributed $10,000 to Menendez.

Menendez raised $274,500 in the third quarter of last year and paid $55,000 in legal expenses to Schertler & Onorato.

Menendez’s office and Elias Law Group did not respond to requests for comment.