Menendez spent between 32% and 87% of his net worth on private flights to DR

From The National Journal:

When Robert Menendez arrived in the U.S. Senate in 2006, he was a relative pauper in a chamber often called a millionaires’ club. The New Jersey Democrat ranked 97th out of 100 senators in terms of his personal wealth, according to financial records filed that year and compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

So Menendez’s decision last month to use his personal funds to reimburse a prominent political contributor $58,500 for two flights to the Dominican Republic came at a major cost. The repayment amounts to between 32 percent and 87 percent of the assets Menendez reported holding in bank accounts and stock, according to his latest financial-disclosure form, which was filed last year.

Menendez repaid Florida eye doctor and political donor Salomon Melgen only after his free flights aboard Melgen’s plane became public and the subject of a Senate ethics complaint. A local New Jersey Republican group filed a complaint last November, alleging the senator had broken Senate rules by “repeatedly flying on a private jet to the Dominican Republic, and other locations.” Menendez reimbursed Melgen the $58,500 two months later, on Jan. 4, according to his office.

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Government watchdogs are dubious. They say Menendez’s financial situation adds fuel to questions about his motives and whether the free flights he accepted were a simple oversight.

“For a senator that’s not a Rockefeller, that’s real money,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “It kind of makes you wonder.… If he knew in advance that the trips were going to cost him $60,000, would he have done it?”

In the years after the Jack Abramoff scandal, which involved trips abroad for politicians, McGehee said it “stretches credibility” that Menendez was unaware he was receiving a gift while boarding a private flight to a Caribbean island. “You’re about to walk on a private plane, and you’re a public official—and that doesn’t occur to you?” she said.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another watchdog group, was even less charitable.

“He waited until he was caught to pay them back,” she said. “If you rob a bank—and you’re caught—you don’t say, ‘Take the money back and forget about it.’ ”

Posted: February 6th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Bob Menendez | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Menendez spent between 32% and 87% of his net worth on private flights to DR”

  1. Steward said at 7:49 pm on February 6th, 2013:

    The “bank” comparison is stupid. He didn’t take (“rob”) money from an institution. He accepted transportation. A question that needs to be asked: was the travel personal, or was it business related — directly related to his work as a senator and/or was he actively campaigning?

  2. Barry said at 5:21 am on February 7th, 2013:

    It doesn’t matter, personal gift or campaign contribution it was against Senate Ethics rules.

  3. @ Barry said at 7:19 am on February 7th, 2013:

    Thank you for filling in the blanks for Low Information Voter Steward. The details must not matter to him.

    That aside, Menendez can run from the facts, but he just can’t hide from things like this…

    “a close friend and major campaign donor — had overbilled the government by $8.9 million for care at his clinic, Menendez aides said Wednesday.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sen-menendez-contacted-top-officials-in-friends-medicare-dispute/2013/02/06/e01bf928-6fd4-11e2-aa58-243de81040ba_print.html

  4. What bothers me said at 7:46 am on February 7th, 2013:

    is not that he always looked kind of sleazy to me, and not that he didn’t pay for all the trips until the furor started, it’s that most of his expensive tv commercials had him walking in the “old neighborhood,” and standing in classrooms full of cute, young children. Another phony sleaze ball allowing his handlers to portray him as what he obviously isn’t. Tired of the hypocrisy,on all levels!

  5. @ What Bothers Me said at 8:01 am on February 7th, 2013:

    You NAILED It. They Always Say, “It Slipped Through The Cracks.”

    This Guy Seems Like The Slime Pedophile Uncle Lurking In The Background

  6. Justified Right said at 3:55 pm on February 7th, 2013:

    Why would 2 airplane rides cost $60K? Did they take the space shuttle?

    Can anyone shed any light on this?

  7. MoreMonmouthMusings » Blog Archive » Grand Jury Investigating Menendez said at 10:45 pm on March 14th, 2013:

    [...] private jet in 2010 but did not report until January of this year.  He paid Melgen $58,500, which was between 32% and 87% of his net worth, for the flights he thinks the Ethics Committee would let him have gratis because it was the right [...]