While the New Jersey Senate prepares the barbecue on which they intend, by whatever means necessary and possible, to roast Gov. Chris Christie for a traffic jam he may or may not have authorized, New Jersey U.S. Senator Robert Menendez has quietly paid a Chicago-based law firm to represent him on charges of aiding in the flight of felons accused of embezzling money from a foreign bank with assets in the United States.
Last night, on the monthly Town Hall Radio show, “Ask the Governor” (New Jersey 101.5) which was aired by NJ12 News, Gov. Chris Christie said he started asking staff members to get more details about traffic jams in the northern New Jersey town of Fort Lee last year soon after they were over and he heard they were a source of contention.
He said that from the information he was given – statistics on EZPass, cash toll booth collections, number of cars – he assumed that it was a legitimate traffic study. The study’s purpose was to determine whether the town of Fort Lee needed its own, dedicated toll booth, he told the show’s host, after a caller asked a question about the bridge scandal. Christie said it was ridiculous to ask “when” he knew.
Meanwhile, Democrat U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was busy paying a law firm to protect his own burning bridge. The charges, which the Senator denies, are much more serious than a traffic jam, but are receiving about as much media coverage as a typical traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.
According to Bloomberg News reporter Jeff Kearns, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, denied wrongdoing Jan. 24 after NBC 4 New York reported the Justice Department was probing his efforts to help two bankers living in Florida avoid extradition to Ecuador as they flee charges of embezzlement.
“Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, denied wrongdoing Jan. 24 after NBC 4 New York reported the Justice Department was probing his efforts to help two bankers living in Florida avoid extradition to Ecuador. Menendez, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, is opening a legal expense fund after paying a law firm $250,000 last year for fees related to ethics investigations.
“The Menendez campaign paid the $250,000 to Chicago-based McDermott Will & Emery LLP, according to Tricia Enright, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Democrat. The new legal fund is approved by the Senate Ethics Committee and all the money will be publicly disclosed, Enright said yesterday in an e-mail.
“The legal costs relate to Justice Department and Senate Ethics Committee investigations into Menendez’s ties to a campaign donor, the Associated Press reported Jan. 31. Menendez confirmed the probes, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Feb. 1, citing an affidavit signed by the senator.
“Menendez denied wrongdoing Jan. 24 after NBC 4 New York reported the Justice Department was probing his efforts to help two bankers living in Florida avoid extradition to Ecuador. Investigators are examining whether he broke laws in trying to help William and Roberto Isaias stay in the U.S., NBC said, citing current and former U.S. officials it didn’t name.
“The brothers were convicted in absentia for embezzling millions of dollars from Filanbanco, which they ran before it collapsed, NBC said. Menendez wrote letters and made phone calls to the State Department and Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the brothers, who are seeking permanent residence in the U.S., NBC reported.
“Menendez last year denied allegations that he helped Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and political donor, by intervening in a Medicare-billing dispute and aiding Melgen’s company to enforce a port security contract in the Dominican Republic. Melgen had been the subject of a Medicare probe, and U.S. agents twice raided his offices.
“Enright said yesterday the campaign didn’t pay Melgen for a private flight because of an error by the campaign. Menendez took a commercial flight to Miami for a series of campaign fundraisers and meetings on Jan. 28, 2011, and returned to New Jersey two days later aboard Melgen’s plane, she said.
“The Florida trip was related to a campaign and wasn’t a personal flight, which means Menendez needed to pay for it out of campaign funds, Enright said.
“’Due to an oversight, the campaign did not reimburse Dr. Melgen for the cost of that flight at the time,’ she said. ‘When that oversight was discovered at the end of 2013, Senator Menendez directed his campaign to immediately reimburse Dr. Melgen $11,250 for the cost of the flight.’
Melgen told Bloomberg in April his business interests never benefited from his friendship with Menendez and that he broke no laws.
“I am not a crook.”
No, wait; that was former Pres. Richard Nixon.