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Letters to the Editor: PAY UP BOB


When the Senate Ethics Committee severely admonished disgraced Senator Bob Menendez for his bribery scandal, they demanded that he pay back the bribes he accepted from convicted felon Salomon Melgen.

Menendez has resisted, claiming he already paid Melgen back, and the committee was just unaware. But Politico’s New Jersey Playbook notes that he has actually paid back only a fraction of the bribes, reimbursing Melgen for two private jet flights, with the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm reimbursing him for a third. But according to the Department of Justice, Menendez accepted many more flights, as well as a Paris hotel stay, a wedding at a tropical resort and several stays at Melgen’s villa in the Dominican Republic.

So when will Menendez pay back the rest of his bribes?

In case you missed it…

New Jersey Playbook
Matt Friedman
May 29, 2018

Just a few weeks ago, the Senate Ethics Committee admonished Sen. Menendez over the gifts he received from Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen and demanded he pay the money back.

As I wrote here, the committee was short on specificity. And, as I confirmed Friday, Sen. Menendez — who depends mostly on his $175,000 Senate salary — doesn’t have plans to pay anything more back.

“I think the Ethics Committee was unaware that there were a series of payments that were made before they continued their review,” Menendez told me Friday. “Remember, [the ethics complaint] was filed in 2012 by Republicans here in New Jersey, and I think they’re unaware. We are making them aware."

But Menendez, to my knowledge, only reimbursed Melgen $58,500 for two flights on the doctor’s private jet. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee also reimbursed a little under $15,000 for a third flight it determined was for his duties in leading the group There were many more flights that were brought up during the unsuccessful Menendez/Melgen corruption trial. There was a Paris hotel stay paid for by Melgen’s credit card points (which Menendez at the time indicated he would reimburse through points it would have taken him years and years to accumulate them). There was a wedding at a tropical resort where Menendez stayed with Melgen and his wife. And there were all those stays at the Melgen family’s villa in the Dominican Republic.

So Menendez says his lawyers are talking to the Ethics Committee about it. The real question is, if the committee uses the feds’ definition of what constitutes gifts, it’s hard to see how Menendez could afford to pay them back.

Bob Salera

NRSC Deputy Communications Director

National Republican Senate Committee