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U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen). (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Ethics committee closes file on Menendez

New Jersey Senator has repaid all gifts from Melgen

By David Wildstein, February 05 2019 8:00 am

The U.S. Senate Ethics Committee has closed its file on Bob Menendez, three months after New Jersey voters re-elected him to a third term by a wide margin, marking an end to the U.S. Senator’s ethics issues.

“Having already received documentation that all impermissible gifts have been repaid, the committee hereby considers this matter closed,” wrote panel chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and vice chair Christopher Coons (D-Delaware) in a letter to Menendez obtained by the New Jersey Globe.

In April 2018, the committee ordered Menendez to repay the gifts at a fair market value and amend his personal disclosures.

Menendez wrote two additional checks last October totaling $2,009 as repayment to Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend, to satisfy the ethics committee requirement.  This amount was determined after Menendez’s staff and counsel worked with the committee to resolve all repayment issues, the senator’s office said.

The final amount reflects $1,134 for a guest suite Menendez shared with Melgen and his wife at a wedding, and $875 for car service.  The rooms at the wedding were provided by the host and the owner of the hotel for guests, including Dr. and Mrs. Melgen, Menendez’s office said.

Documents filed with the Secretary of the Senate and obtained by the Globe show that Menendez has amended his financial disclosure reports for 2006 through 2010 to include gifts he received from Melgen.  This reflects a full and final accounting of reimbursements.

“I’m pleased this issue is closed,” Menendez told the Globe.

Menendez reimbursed Melgen $46,975 for the full cost of four charter flights from 2006, $58,500 for the full charter cost of two flights in 2010, and $4,934 for the value of a Paris hotel stay in 2010.  The reimbursements were made in 2013 and 2014, Menendez’s office said.

Beginning in December 2012, the ethics committee began allowing Menendez’s counsel to deliver updated documents on a rolling basis, the senator’s office said.  The panel had asked that additional remedial action stop until Menendez’s legal case was completed.

The closing of the Menendez file ends a years-long issue that included an admonishment by the ethics committee for accepting gifts from Melgen.

The admonishment had little impact on Menendez’s standing with his home state voters.  Republican Bob Hugin made Menendez’s ethics the focal point of his 2018 campaign, spending more than $36 million to unseat the Democratic senator.

Menendez won by a 54%-43% margin and a plurality of 354,299, setting a record for the most total votes received by a Senate candidate in a mid-term election.

US Senate Ethics Committee Feb 1 2019
US Senate Ethics Committee Feb 1 2019 Bob Menendez NJ
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