Menendez Watch

Sen. Menendez / AP
March 15, 2013

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) is reportedly being investigated by a federal grand jury for misusing his political clout to intervene on behalf of controversial Democratic donor Dr. Salomon Melgen.

The Washington Post reports:

A federal grand jury in Miami is investigating Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), examining his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor and friend, according to three people aware of the probe.

Last month, people with knowledge of the case said FBI agents were conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic and the United States concerning allegations against Menendez, including the role he played in advocating for the enforcement of the port-security contract. […]

As part of the grand jury investigation, the three people said, federal agents have questioned witnesses about the interactions between Menendez and Melgen, who contributed $700,000 last year to Menendez and other Senate Democrats. The grand jury has also issued subpoenas for Melgen’s business and financial records, according to two people briefed on the probe who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an on­going investigation.

An investigation by a grand jury typically indicates a "legal escalation," as a prosecutor "[pursues] allegations with an eye toward possible indictment." However, the article notes that not every grand jury probe will result in a prosecution.

Both Menendez and his office have consistently denied allegations of wrongdoing. Menendez "would not say whether he knew anything about the [grand jury] investigation" during a Thursday interview with the Washington Post, but he reiterated that an investigation would not disclose evidence of misconduct.

The senator said, "I welcome any review, because I believe, at the end of the day, that my actions have been appropriate. And just as everything that gave rise to this was a smear campaign based on slanders that drove the original story, I believe that when any review reviews the facts, they will determine that I have acted appropriately at all times."

Menendez expressed content earlier this month when it was reported that a Dominican woman signed an affidavit recanting statements that the senator had paid her for sex. However, the latest report suggests that Menendez’s troubles are far from over.