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Menendez Says He Hasn’t Been Interviewed by FBI, Grand Jury

Embattled N.J. Dem 'happy to see' Medicare, port security actions reviewed

• April 10, 2013 10:24 am

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Embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) said Wednesday he had not been interviewed by neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation or a federal grand jury regarding his relationship with a controversial donor:

CHUCK TODD: I want to ask you about the investigation that's taking place into a donor and a friend of yours, Dr. Melgen, I wanted to know: Have you been interviewed either by the FBI or by the grand jury in this investigation?

BOB MENENDEZ: Uh, no. And the reality is, look, we welcome any review by any entity, because at the end of the day we know that that review will prove that we have acted appropriately at all times. What we don't know in this process is who was behind the money and the smears that they tried to level. We do know that there were people behind it. We do know that Republican operatives were at play by a whole host of press accounts. We'd love to know who was behind that.

TOD: Well, I want to — the one part of this that I guess I'm — that some people look at and say, "Huh." Did you do any favors for this donor and this friend that you wouldn't have done for any other constituent, when it was helping him with a port security contract or dealing with Medicare? Can you say for certain you didn't do anything above and beyond what you would have done for any other constituent?

MENENDEZ: We have all types of constituents, both in New Jersey and from across the country, who bring us issues, and we look at those issues. We make a determination as to whether or not those issues have legitimacy, and then we make a decision to pursue it ourselves if we think that the issue has legitimacy. In this case, as in every other case, that's the road that we followed. It's the same road for everyone. As I say, I'm, you know, happy to see our actions reviewed because at the end of the day they were totally appropriate.

Menendez's relationship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, a South Florida opthamologist and major Democratic donor, has come under intense scrutiny since FBI and HHS agents raided Melgen's office in January.

Melgen is currently under investigation for Medicare fraud.

On two occasions since 2009, Menendez contacted top federal health care officials over an audit of Melgen's practice.

Menendez also advocated to federal officials on behalf of a port security contract worth up to $500 million to a company owned by Melgen over the next two decades.

Melgen, his family, and his eye clinic have donated major money that benefited Menendez in a variety of ways (traditional campaign contributions, donations to a legal fund set up by Menendez, and $700,000 toward Majority PAC, which spent more than $500,000 on Menendez's 2012 contest).

The Washington Post reported last month that a federal grand jury in Miami is investigating Menendez over his relationship with Melgen.

Published under: Bob Menendez, Congress, Salomon Melgen