NJ Sen. Menendez ‘admonished’ by ethics committee


HUDSON COUNTY–The United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics “severely admonished” New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez on Thursday in a public letter for accepting gifts “of significant value” from Dr. Salomon Melgen, and said he allegedly used his position to advance Melgen’s “personal and business interests.”
Menendez was indicted in April 2015 on charges that he intervened improperly with federal agencies on behalf of Melgen in exchange for trips and campaign contributions. However, he said he was listening to a constituent and friend who asked for help. After last year’s trial resulted in a hung jury, the U.S. Justice Department announced in January Menendez would not be retried.
“Notably, you have not disputed the fact that you accepted numerous gifts from Dr. Melgen and took official actions related to his interests,” states the letter. “The committee has determined that this conduct violated Senate rules, federal law, and applicable standards of conduct.”
Counsel for Menendez Marc Elias released a statement on Twitter Thursday afternoon in response to the letter.
“We are glad that this ethics committee process that began nearly six years ago is finally resolved,” read the statement. “As those who followed the 11-week trial know, many of the findings in the letter were not only contradicted by the presiding judge and rejected by the jury, but the proceedings clearly demonstrated that there was no violation of any law. This was further underscored when the Department of Justice dropped its baseless charges in January. More than five years ago, Sen. Menendez acknowledged and made substantial payments for gifts. We halted further remedial action, including, submitting amendments to his financial disclosure forms at the request of the Ethics Committee’s staff. With the Ethics Committee process now concluded, Senator Menendez looks forward to continuing to serve the people of New Jersey.”
Menendez appeared at a rally on Thursday night for Union City Mayor Brian Stack, even though he is running unopposed in May. Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and other local mayors appeared to cheer on Stack’s campaign.