US Senator Bob Menendez faces another federal investigation

Leader of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations dodged corruption charges in 2017

Bob Menendez was indicted in 2015, accused of abusing his office to help a Florida eye doctor who had given him lavish gifts. AP
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Bob Menendez, an influential Democratic senator who avoided conviction on corruption charges five years ago, is reportedly the subject of a new federal investigation.

Mr Menendez leads the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and recently spoke out against Saudi Arabia after the Opec+ decision to cut oil production.

An adviser for the senator, Michael Soliman, acknowledged the investigation in a statement on Wednesday.

“Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, however he does not know the scope of the investigation,” he said.

“As always, should any official inquiries be made, the senator is available to provide any assistance that is requested of him or his office.”

News organisation Semafor reported on Wednesday that federal prosecutors based in Manhattan had contacted people connected to Mr Menendez in recent weeks, citing two people familiar with the inquiry.

Those people did not provide details on what the investigation was about or what alleged wrongdoing was involved.

The US attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment. Mr Menendez’s Senate office referred to Mr Soliman’s statement.

Mr Menendez was indicted in 2015, accused of abusing his office to help a Florida eye doctor who had given him lavish gifts — including trips on a private plane to a Dominican resort and a Paris holiday.

Prosecutors said the senator had pressured government officials to resolve a Medicare billing dispute in a way that was favourable to the doctor, Salomon Melgen.

They said Mr Menendez also helped get US visas for the doctor’s girlfriends and worked to protect a contract Dr Melgen had to provide port screening equipment.

Mr Menendez’s lawyers argued that Dr Melgen’s gifts were tokens of their long-time friendship, not bribes. Mr Menendez paid for some of the trips he took to Dr Melgen’s resort in the Dominican Republic.

A jury deadlocked on the charges in 2017. Prosecutors declined to retry Mr Menendez. The senator maintained his innocence and was re-elected in 2018.

Dr Melgen was convicted on healthcare fraud charges in Florida, but former president Donald Trump commuted his sentence during his final days in office. A White House statement at the time credited Mr Menendez with backing clemency.

Updated: October 27, 2022, 6:24 PM