Millions in legal expenses for Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption scandal
The New Jersey Democrat spent $5.16 million on his defense, according to his legal expense fund filing with the Senate Office of Public Records. The trust was formed in 2014 at the beginning of Menendez’s legal woes. It allows people to make contributions to Menendez so he can fight his legal battles associated with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics inquiries and allegations of federal law violations associated with his role as a senator.
The trust was terminated Dec. 31, and the final disclosure report was filed Jan. 15 by Marc E. Elias, an attorney for Menendez who works for Perkins Coie. The expenditures for the fourth quarter of 2019 include $157,255 for legal services from Perkins Coie LLP, $26,429 for legal services rendered by McDermott Will & Emery LLP and $300 for database services provided by Every Action Inc.
Asked if Menendez had a comment on the expenses, Tricia Enright, a spokesperson for the senator said, “Nope.”
His 2017 federal corruption trial ended in a mistrial as a result of a deadlocked jury that couldn’t decide whether he was guilty. The Department of Justice dropped the case in 2018 after the judge entered acquittals on seven of the 18 charges Menendez faced. The charges against Menendez included honest services fraud relating to allegations of accepting bribes in the form of gifts from Salomon Melgen, a South Florida ophthalmologist, who was also on trial.
Federal prosecutors alleged that more than $700,000 in campaign contributions, vacations and flights on Melgen’s private jet were part of a scheme to induce Menendez to provide inappropriate favors and assistance to Melgen, including help with the Department of Health and Human Services over Medicare billing issues.
In a separate matter, Melgen was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme that resulted in a $42 million loss to Medicare.
In April 2018, Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was “severely admonished” by the chamber’s Ethics Committee for improperly accepting gifts from Melgen. The bipartisan committee, comprising three Democrats and three Republicans, issued a strong statement against the way Menendez comported himself.
“You demonstrated disregard for these standards by placing your Senate office in Dr. Melgen’s service at the same time you repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value from him. Your assistance to Dr. Melgen under these circumstances demonstrated poor judgment, and it risked undermining the public’s confidence in the Senate,” the Ethics Committee wrote. “As such, your actions reflected discredit upon the Senate.”
A suspect was arrested on Jan. 13 in the 600 block of Second Street Northwest after a woman said she was threatened and assaulted by the suspect, who allegedly hit her with a broomstick and closed fist before leaving the scene. The woman who was assaulted had a bloody lip, according to the Capitol Police arrest report. The suspect was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in addition to threats to do bodily harm, simple assault and bench warrant.
Crossing the line
The Capitol Police arrested a person for crossing a police line, which was constructed for a protest on the East Front of the Capitol. The arresting officer saw the person cross the boundary after the person was warned not to and the officer made the arrest on Jan. 10, the arrest report states.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.