Friday, March 15, 2013

MIAMI FED GRAND JURY INVESTIGATES NJ SEN. MENENDEZ

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Robert Menendez is being investigated by a Miami federal grand jury for his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor and friend, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Menendez and Melgen's overlapping interests have repeatedly raised questions in recent months. Menendez was compelled to reimburse $58,000 for two flights to the Dominican Republic aboard Melgen's private jet for personal trips in 2010 that he previously had failed to report, prompting scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Menendez also has acknowledged contacting U.S. health agencies to question their billing practices and policies amid a dispute between Melgen and federal authorities. And Menendez was a key sponsor of a natural gas bill that could have aided a Melgen investment in a Florida company that markets a conversion system for natural gas truck engines.

Then, in the fall, the FBI began looking into an anonymous tipster's allegations that Melgen had arranged prostitutes for Menendez in the Dominican Republic. Such an arrangement could constitute providing a favor or gift under the bribery statute that investigators have been reviewing, the Post said.

MORE:  Grand Jury Investigating N.J. Sen.Menendez