Sen. Menendez defiant amid reports of looming indictment
GARWOOD, N.J. (AP) -- U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez insisted Monday that he has done nothing wrong amid reports that he could be indicted on corruption charges as soon as this week.
"I'll say the same thing I said two weeks ago when there was a different press report -- and that is that I have always acted appropriately and legally," Menendez said at a factory where he was touting new legislation aimed at hiring military veterans.
The New Jersey Democrat has been under investigation over his relationship with Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, a friend and political donor whose medical office was raided by state authorities two years ago.
A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press in early March that criminal charges were expected to be filed in the coming weeks. At a news conference then, Menendez expressed the same sentiments as he did Monday, saying he and Melgen are longtime friends who have "given each other birthday, holiday and wedding presents just as friends do."
Menendez, a 23-year member of the House and Senate who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until Democrats lost control of the Senate, has been scrutinized for trips he took to the Dominican Republic on Melgen's private plane. Menendez has acknowledged taking several actions that could have appeared to benefit Melgen, including contacting a Medicare agency to urge changes to a payment policy that had cost Melgen millions of dollars.
Melgen has contributed nearly $200,000 to Democratic Party candidates since 1998, including $14,200 to Menendez, according to campaign finance disclosures. In 2012, during Menendez's re-election campaign, Melgen gave $700,000 to a super political action committee that spent more than $580,000 to help Menendez.
Menendez didn't address specific allegations regarding his relationship with Melgen on Monday but criticized the leaking of information about the investigation and possible indictment.
"All of us who care about justice and the law should be concerned about where those leaks come from, even if you are the press and you happened to take advantage of the leaks," he said. "You have to wonder when there is a violation of the law and no one seems to be obsessed with the question of that violation of the law. We will respond to any issues, any inquiries, any allegations, when and if the time comes."
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