Originally published on April 2, 2015, at NationofChange.org
Federal prosecutors indicted Sen. Robert Menendez on corruption charges on Wednesday for allegedly accepting lavish gifts and contributions in exchange for political favors. According to the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, Sen. Menendez used his position to advance the business interests of campaign contributor and Florida ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Investigated for years by the FBI, the Senate Ethics Committee, the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS), and a federal grand jury, Sen. Menendez and Dr. Melgen have finally been charged for participating in a bribery scheme.
After receiving an anonymous tip, the FBI began investigating allegations that Dr. Melgen had purchased underage prostitutes for Menendez during one of his trips to the Dominican Republic. Although the prostitutes eventually recanted their stories, the FBI and HHS investigators raided Dr. Melgen’s offices in January 2013. Less than a month later, Menendez became Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
In March 2013, a federal grand jury in Miami reportedly began investigating Menendez’s questionable relationship with Dr. Melgen. After acknowledging that he had failed to disclose two free trips aboard Dr. Melgen’s private plane in 2010, Menendez wrote the doctor a personal check for $58,500 to reimburse him for the rides. The Senate Ethics Committee launched an investigation into why Menendez did not disclose the flights earlier.