4:41 PM, Apr 1, 2015
Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey has been officially charged for corruption after years of investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The charges came Wednesday, weeks after Menendez staunchly denied the accusations during a press conference:
“Let me be very clear. I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law.”
The Wall Street Journal reports a federal grand jury handed down a 14-count indictment — those charges include conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.
“She was paid money to, uh, be with him.”
The investigation into Menendez first started in 2012 when conservative blog The Daily Caller posted a video of an interview with a prostitute who said she was paid to sleep with Menendez while he was in the Dominican Republic.
That claim was never proven, and other prostitutes who made similar statements later recanted. But during the investigation into those allegations, the FBI started to take an interest in Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor and political donor.
“The doctor is accused of taking Sen. Menendez on free trips to the Dominican Republic,” WPTV reporter Katie Johnson said.
Melgen is from the Dominican Republic and is believed to have cozied up to Menendez with gifts and political donations.
The Florida eye doctor faces his own set of federal corruption charges. According to Bloomberg, the Justice Department may formally charge Melgen soon.
The Los Angeles Times quotes Senate Historian Donald A. Ritchie who says if Menendez is convicted, however, the Senate will probablybegin expulsion proceedings.
This video includes images from Getty Images.