New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is set to go on trial for corruption charges on September 6.
The charges aimed at Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, dates back to the Senator’s first term where Melgen allegedly gave Menendez gifts and contributions in an effort to buy political influence.
Menendez and Melgen are accused of having a “quid pro quo” relationship going as far back as 2006. Prosecutors say that in exchange for luxurious vacations and large donations to his campaign coffers, Menendez used his power to advocate for various personal and business interests of Melgen’s within the government.
More details from CNN:
Melgen allegedly flew Menendez on his own private jet or on “equally luxurious travel” to his villa at Case de Campo, a luxurious resort in the Dominican Republic featuring amenities from beaches to polo fields. At one point, Melgen allegedly purchased a three-night hotel stay for Menendez at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Paris. Prosecutors say that Menendez never acknowledged these gifts on his annual financial disclosure forms.
Melgen also donated heavily to Menendez’s campaign and legal defense funds. At one point, Melgen donated more than $770,000 to various funds supporting Menendez over a five-month period.
Melgen, a medical doctor, was facing an overbilling ruling from the government related to Medicare payments.
Concerns about corruption do not stop with Senator Menendez.
Bloomberg is reporting that Menendez got former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to seek help from the White House to address the dispute between Melgen and the federal government:
Menendez “enlisted” Reid in November 2011 to help pressure the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, known as CMS, to reverse its ruling that Melgen owed $8.9 million for overbilling Medicare. Reid contacted a White House deputy chief of staff, prosecutors said.
“At that time, the Majority Leader reached out to the White House Deputy Chief of Staff, informing her that Menendez was upset about how a Florida ophthalmologist was being treated by CMS and asking that she call the agency,” according to the 30-page filing.
While the media obsesses with President Trump and Russian collusion claims, it largely ignores a serious case of possible influence buying by a U.S. Senator.