Controversial Dem Donor Funded Menendez Legal Defense Fund

Bob Menendez, Salomon Melgen / AP,
February 6, 2013

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) spent $58,500 of his personal money to reimburse Dr. Salomon Melgen for the use of his private plane. It was a large sum for Menendez, who has relatively modest finances compared to his fellow senators. The National Journal reports:

The repayment amounts to between 32 percent and 87 percent of the assets Menendez reported holding in bank accounts and stock, according to his latest financial-disclosure form, which was filed last year. ...

"For a senator that’s not a Rockefeller, that’s real money," said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. "It kind of makes you wonder. … If he knew in advance that the trips were going to cost him $60,000, would he have done it?"

According to the National Journal, Menenedez has previously used his legal fund, known as the Fund to Uphold the Constitution, to pay outstanding debts.

In addition to the political giving, the Melgens supported a legal defense fund that Menendez created in 2011 to fend off a tea-party-backed recall effort. The state high court dismissed the recall effort, and Menendez used his legal fund, called the Fund to Uphold the Constitution, to pay his lawyers. …

Salomon and Flor Melgen gave a combined $40,000 in 2011 and 2012 to the legal fund, making them its largest donors.

The Center for Responsive Politics attributes $109,793 of the fund’s campaign expenses as being paid to the law firm Perkins Coie.