WASHINGTON – 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.
A story on the newspaper’s website said that as part of the probe federal agents have questioned witnesses about the interactions between Menendez, D-N.J., and Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen. The newspaper said the grand jury also issued subpoenas for Melgen’s business and financial records. The newspaper cited unidentified people it said were familiar with the probe.
The Post said Melgen declined to say Thursday whether he knew anything about the investigation, but he said any probe would find no wrongdoing.
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.
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.
Melgen has given more than $14,000 directly to Menendez’s political campaigns since the late 1990s and, through his eye clinic, donated $700,000 last year to a “super” political committee that supported Democratic Senate candidates. The committee, in turn, spent $582,000 to back Menendez’s re-election effort.