Federal authorities will charge New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez with corruption-related crimes apparently involving actions taken on behalf of a Florida opthamologist and political donor named Salomon Melgen, CNN reports. Menendez and Melgen’s relationship has already been the subject of public controversy; in 2013, the senator repaid the doctor $58,000 for financing two 2010 trips to the Dominican Republic that Menendez said he had not properly disclosed because of an “oversight.” Melgen and his family members have given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic politicians across the country, and Menendez may have improperly promoted the doctor’s interests in his capacity as a public official:
Menendez advocated on Melgen’s behalf with federal Medicare administrators who accused Melgen of overbilling the government’s healthcare program, according to court documents and people briefed on the probe. Melgen was among the top recipients of Medicare reimbursements in recent years, during a time when he was also a major Democratic donor. Melgen’s attorneys have denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors also are focusing on whether Menendez broke the law in advocating for Melgen’s business interest in a Dominican Republic government contract for a port screening equipment. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, at the time, considered donating port screening equipment to the Dominican Republic, which would have hurt the contract of Melgen-controlled company.
Menendez has apparently not commented on CNN’s report but has in the past denied that he’s committed any crimes.
Melgen’s Port Saint Lucie doctor’s office, incidentally, is listed on Yelp, but no one has of yet left a review.