Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. / Jack Gruber, USA TODAY


WASHINGTON ?? Sen. Robert Menendez paid $250,000 to a Washington law firm and set up a legal defense fund to help pay costs related to investigations by the Justice Department and the Senate ethics committee, according to documents filed Friday.

Menendez also paid $11,250 to Dr. Salomon Melgen, a close friend and donor who lives in Florida, to reimburse him for another flight Menendez took on Melgen's private airplane.

The New Jersey senator came under fire a year ago for making several flights aboard Melgen's plane that he had not reported or paid for. Menendez's office immediately paid $58,500 for those trips, which his office said were personal in nature.

The office said the additional payment made last month was to cover a Jan. 28, 2011, trip to Miami for a series of campaign fundraisers and meetings.

"Due to an oversight, the campaign did not reimburse Dr. Melgen for the cost of that flight at the time," spokeswoman Trisha Enright said. "When that oversight was discovered at the end of 2013, Sen. Menendez directed his campaign to immediately reimburse Dr. Melgen."

In addition to the flights, Menendez has drawn attention for intervening with federal officials on Melgen's behalf.

The $250,000 payment was to the Chicago-based McDermott Will & Emery law firm, according to a campaign finance report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission. Enright didn't specify what work the firm did.

"Over the past year, we have incurred significant expenses to respond to the smear campaign that was launched by right-wing operatives," Enright said.

A conservative website had accused Menendez of flying in Melgen's plane to the Dominican Republica, where it said Melgen provided him with underage prostitutes. The latter allegation was later debunked.

"To help alleviate those expenses in the future, we are opening a legal expense fund consistent with Senate Ethics Committee rules and approved by the committee," Enright said. "This fund will allow Sen. Menendez to raise funds, all of which will be publicly disclosed, to pay for legal expenses."

The FBI raided Melgen's West Palm Beach, Fla., offices a year ago but have not said why. No charges have been filed.

The Senate ethics committee investigation is looking into whether Menendez inappropriately accepted gifts from Melgen. Reports also have surfaced indicating Menendez contacted U.S. officials several times on Melgen's behalf. Menendez has maintained he did nothing wrong.

The Washington Post reported last year that investigators were looking into several cases in which Menendez intervened in matters affecting Melgen's financial interests.

In those cases, the Post reported, Menendez pressured officials in the Dominican Republic to honor a contract with Melgen's port security company and intervened on the doctor's behalf in a dispute between Melgen and U.S. health care officials over Medicare payments.

Individuals and political committees can contribute up to $10,000 to the legal defense fund, which must disclose its donors. Lobbyists, labor unions and corporations are not allowed to contribute.

Contact Malia Rulon Herman at mrulon@gannett.com or @mrulon



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Menendez set up legal defense fund

More In

test

Real Deals

Flip, shop and save on specials from your favorite retailers in central Ohio.

GET DEALS | COUPONS

Things To Do

WED
20
THU
21
FRI
22
SAT
23
SUN
24
MON
25
TUE
26

CLASSIFIEDS

Classifieds from across Central Ohio
Lancaster
Chillicothe
Newark
Marion
Bucyrus
Mansfield
Zanesville
Coshocton

Weeklies & Shoppers

10TV Headlines

Dispatch Headlines

METROMIX