The Justice Department will bring federal criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez for using his power in exchange for political support, CNN is reporting.
The charges, which could be announced within weeks, center on Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who donated heavily to the Democrat and others in the party.
A federal grand jury began investigating Mendendez’s relationship with Melgen back in 2013.
In 2010, Menendez accepted private plane rides to Melgen’s Dominican resort. During the 2012 election cycle, the ophthalmologist donated over $700,000 to Majority PAC, a political action committee operated by former staffers of Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.
Most of that donation — $600,000 — was passed through to Menendez’s campaign.
In exchange, Menendez allegedly intervened in a fraud investigation over whether Melgen overbilled for Medicare repayments. Melgen’s North Palm Beach, Fla.-practice received $21 million reimbursements in 2012 alone. Menendez was also accused of using his sway to intervene on Melgen’s behalf over a port-security screening contract with the Dominican government.
In 2013, Menendez paid back over $58,000 for the flights and the Dominican vacation, claiming that they were an “oversight” on his part, though he has steadfastly denied any influence-peddling.
According to CNN, outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with the case against Menendez. Prosecutors were anxious to proceed with the case since some of the charges are set to expire under the statute of limitations.
Just before CNN’s report broke, Menendez’s senate staff sent out an inauspiciously-timed email touting his legislative record over the past year.
“I’m proud to let you know my boss, Senator Bob Menendez, received top marks on the 2014 Congressional Report Card from GovTrack, a non-partisan government transparency website,” the email reads.
“This is the second year in a row the Senator has topped many of the GovTrack Report Card categories. Plus, he was listed as the most productive member of the 113th Congress in Time magazine.”