By Miguel Cruz Tejada
NEW YORK._ The Democratic senator for New Jersey, Robert Menéndez (Bobo), of Cuban origin, is being investigated again for corruption and influence peddling and is paying thousands of dollars from a legal defense fund, confirmed Tuesday, a spokesman for the legislator’s office.
Menendez was besieged by federal investigators who indicted him on similar charges but acquitted by a judge in January 2018 in Camden Federal Court in New Jersey.
The senator, who has a large part of the Dominican community residing in the state that he represents in the United States Congress, was then linked to corrupt acts and receiving donations and gifts from Miami-based Dominican ophthalmologist Solomon Melgen, who was sentenced to 17 years in prison for a multi-million dollar federal health insurance fraud.
Given the new implications, including using his influence to favor the meat company “Weehawken, IS EG Halal,” he won an exclusive contract with the Government of Egypt.
Menendez’s campaign finance documents in which he is being investigated by federal prosecutors for the Southern District in Manhattan, New York. According to financial records, Menendez’s campaign has spent $200,000 to pay for two law firms and a document search company.
Menendez is under criminal investigation in connection with the meat company because the owners of that company have given expensive gifts to the senator’s wife.
Menendez and lawyers for the company said they had done nothing wrong.
The feds are also investigating whether Menendez used his influential position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, which approved $2 billion in aid to the Egyptian government to help the New Jersey-based company win exclusivity on the contract.
Menendez’s campaign reported that he paid $127,343 to the Winston and Strawn law firm and another $48,000 to the Schetler and Oronato law firm. Another $55,000 was paid to the Haystack company for document searches.
A Democratic spokeswoman declined to detail the breakdown of the payments.
In a statement, she said that Menéndez is confident that the official investigation will be closed successfully. Still, since it has not yet been resolved, the senator will open a separate legal defense fund so that no more funds from his campaigns will be used.