HUDSON COUNTY -- When federal investigators issue subpoenas to state politicians and agencies, it leads people to wonder whether wrongdoing was committed and who will be charged. Usually, the authorities don't say anything when the investigation is closed or if they fail to turn up improprieties, leaving the investigated officials under a cloud of suspicion.
But in the last two months, the U.S. attorney's office has publicly stated that two high-profile Hudson County politicians are no longer the subject of an investigation.
Three weeks ago, federal authorities said that no evidence of wrongdoing was found after Assemblyman/former Bayonne Mayor Joe Doria's house was raided as part of a 2009 political corruption sting. Many other politicians were charged in connection with that probe. (See related links below.)
Now, the federal government is saying that an investigation has been closed after subpoenas were issued in 2006 regarding Sen. Robert Menendez, originally from Union City.
The federal subpoena was given to the North Hudson Community Action Corporation, a Hudson County-based agency that gives low-cost and free health care to needy people throughout the county.
At the time, sources had said that Menendez helped get federal money for the agency, but also rents property to the agency, which could be a conflict of interest.
The subpoena came during an election against Republican State Sen. Tom Kean Jr.
NJ.com reported on Monday, "In a letter sent to Menendez’s lawyer, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania said the case has been quietly closed. 'After review and consideration of the matter transferred to me, I have decided to close the file,' U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger wrote in the Oct. 5 letter, co-signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard P. Barrett."
NJ.com quotes Jay Fahy, the former head of the corruption unit at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark, as saying, "It’s done in cases where it’s a public figure or a semi-public figure, and the mere mention of the dropping of a subpoena or a search warrant ruins the person’s reputation. U.S. attorneys don’t give out these letters unless they’re sure. It doesn’t say it’s an exoneration, but in reality, it’s an exoneration."
Menendez is up for re-election next year.