Democrat Senator Menendez Indicted On Bribery, Fraud Charges

Justice Department Indicts Sen. Robert Menendez On Corruption Charges – Wall Street Journal

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The Justice Department indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) on corruption charges Wednesday, bringing the first criminal charges against a sitting U.S. senator since the botched prosecution of Alaska’s Ted Stevens seven years ago.

Mr. Menendez, 61 years old, has said he plans to fight any charges, which are the culmination of a two-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the relationship between the senator and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

A federal grand jury in Newark handed down a five count indictment, charging Mr. Menendez with crimes including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud.

Dr. Melgen is already under investigation for possibly overbilling Medicare. The FBI has also probed whether Mr. Menendez used his position to try to help Dr. Melgen with his legal troubles and whether the senator sought to improperly aid Dr. Melgen’s business interests in a Dominican Republic port security company. Dr. Melgen’s lawyer has previously said the doctor acted appropriately at all times.

The probe began with an anonymous accusation about Mr. Menendez’s personal conduct while traveling with Dr. Melgen in the Dominican Republic in 2013. Investigators could never substantiate those claims, but the probe evolved into a far-reaching examination of the relationship between Dr. Melgen and the senator – a long friendship that included gifts, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations, and travel together, according to people familiar with the case.

Shortly after the FBI investigation began, Mr. Menendez repaid Dr. Melgen $58,500 for two private flights to the Dominican Republic that the senator hadn’t listed on financial disclosure forms, Menendez aides have said. Aides called the initial failure to list the flights an oversight.

As news of potentially pending charges spread in recent weeks, Mr. Menendez has acknowledged receiving gifts from the doctor but said they were the result of a close friendship, not corruption, and pledged he wouldn’t back down. Mr. Menendez has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees over the last year, according to public filings.

A prolonged legal battle between the senator and the Justice Department could have broader political and foreign-policy repercussions at a time when Senate Democrats need every vote they can get to confirm Obama administration nominees and muster support for the White House’s foreign-policy moves.

The case is already testing the limits of the Justice Department’s ability to investigate members of Congress. Much lawmaker activity is protected by a constitutional provision that makes them immune from prosecution and civil suits when they are involved in “legislative activity.”

Lawyers in the case have already been sparring on the issue. Prosecutors sought to compel two Menendez staffers who claimed such privilege to testify before a grand jury about actions allegedly taken on behalf of Dr. Melgen, according to a sealed appellate court document that was briefly posted on a public website last month.

Prosecutors’ last attempt to charge a sitting senator – Mr. Stevens – went badly awry, casting a dark cloud over the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which is also pursuing charges against Mr. Menendez. The Justice Department won a 2008 conviction against Mr. Stevens on charges he made false statements on government paperwork, allowing him to conceal tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts, including free home renovations. Just a week after that verdict, Mr. Stevens narrowly lost his re-election bid.

The next year prosecutors reversed course and asked for a judge to vacate the conviction, based on an internal review which found key information had been withheld from the defense. Mr. Stevens died a year later in a plane crash.

Since then, the Public Integrity Section has been overhauled and brought a number of high-profile cases. It oversaw the successful prosecution of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife on corruption charges. Last year, Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), pleaded guilty to felony tax evasion and said he would resign. Still, the constitutional protections for Congress weren’t at play in those cases.

The charges come at the same time as Mr. Menendez, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is playing a key role in some major foreign-policy issues. He has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s overtures to Iran and Cuba and has urged it to get more aggressive in combating Russia’s moves in Ukraine.

Senate Democrats have no hard-and-fast rules requiring a lawmaker to step down from committee assignments or leadership positions when facing legal troubles.

If he declines to step down, Democrats would have to decide whether to force his ouster, Senate aides said. Democratic aides said such a decision would be unlikely to occur until members return to Washington from recess in two weeks, though any public statements from rank-and-file lawmakers could be a harbinger of how the caucus might vote.

Charges against Mr. Menendez would also put Senate Democrats and the White House in an awkward position on the nomination of Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch to succeed Attorney General Eric Holder. Ms. Lynch is facing a tight vote to win confirmation and, should Mr. Menendez choose not to vote to confirm the woman who could oversee his prosecution, the White House would have to find another Republican to back Ms. Lynch or she risks being denied confirmation.

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Turns Out Dirty Harry Reid Was Forced From Office Because Of Corruption Scandals, Not Because He’s Old

Corruption Scandals Led To Harry Reid’s Abrupt “Retirement” – Judicial Watch

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You’d never know it from the mainstream media puff pieces of Harry Reid’s sudden retirement, but it was a long string of corruption scandals – including a recent one involving his attorney son – that drove the veteran Nevada senator to abruptly leave public office.

For nearly a decade Judicial Watch has investigated and exposed Reid’s involvement in a multitude of transgressions and JW even warned the Senate Ethics Committee, but not surprisingly, no action was ever taken. On multiple occasions the Senate minority leader appeared on JW’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” list for his role in a number of political scandals that got more serious as his seniority and clout in Congress increased.

As far back as 2006 Reid was in hot water for violating Senate rules by concealing a seven-figure payoff on a suspicious land deal orchestrated by a longtime friend known for political bribery and mob ties. The influential senator secretly collected a $1.1 million profit on land he hadn’t personally owned for years. To hide the deal, Reid transferred ownership, legal liability and tax consequences to a company owned by a former casino lawyer who has been investigated by federal authorities. Months earlier Red got busted for accepting gifts from a state agency trying to influence him. In that scheme the lawmaker quietly took very expensive ringside boxing tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission while that state agency was trying to influence him on the sport’s federal regulation.

In 2012 Reid made JW’s corrupt politician list because he was embroiled in an influence-peddling scandal involving a Chinese “green energy” client of a Nevada law firm run by his son Rory. The senator was one of the Nevada projects most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on its behalf, according to a mainstream news report. Reid’s son was an attorney at the prominent Las Vegas firm that represented the Chinese Company, ENN Energy Group, and helped it locate a 9,000-acre desert site for well below its appraised value from Clark County.

In 2013 Reid was again named to JW’s most corrupt politician list for taking more than $130,000 in illegal campaign funds from a shady donor, Harvey Whittemore, who eventually went to jail. Whittemore hired four of the senator’s sons at a law firm in which he served as senior partner and worked with Reid on huge land deals that required federal legislation. Additionally, Reid sponsored at least $47 million in earmarks that directly benefitted organizations with close ties to one of his sons, Key Reid. The legislator also colluded with President Obama to nix a proposed nuclear waste dump in Yucca Mountain Nevada after U.S. taxpayers spent $15 billion on the project.

More recently Reid abused his authority to pressure the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expedite a $115 million foreign investor visa deal critical to his son’s casino client. Reid got the DHS to override agency procedures to rush through hundreds of visa applications from foreign nationals who helped fund a Las Vegas hotel and casino that hired Rory Reid to provide legal representation for the project, according to a recent news report. The article goes into tremendous detail about the illicit scheme that evidently served as the straw that broke the camel’s back. A few days later Reid said he wouldn’t run for a sixth term in the Senate. His hometown newspaper called it a “surprise announcement.” On his government website, Reid posted a goodbye video saying he did his best though hasn’t been perfect.

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Leftist Corruption Update: Hillary’s Aides Emailed Her About Benghazi From Their Private Email Accounts

Hillary Clinton’s Aides Reportedly Emailed Her About #Benghazi From Their Personal Email Accounts – Weasel Zippers

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Via Buzzfeed:

Hillary Clinton’s top aides used their personal email accounts to correspond with her about the attack in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State, the New York Times reported Monday.

That detail comes after Clinton, earlier this month, held a news conference to address questions about her use of her personal email account to conduct official business while she was in office. During that event, she said “vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.”

Critics said the likely presidential contender’s use of her personal email account may prevent official records from becoming public. Clinton’s email was run from its own server out of her New York state home, and she has said that she deleted thousands of emails she deemed personal.

About 300 emails have been turned over to the Congressional committee investigating the Benghazi attack, the New York Times reported. Some of those emails, according to people who saw them and described them to the Times, showed Clinton and her staff reacting as the Obama administration’s explanation of what happened in Benghazi changed from a “spontaneous” attack – as then-United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice called it – to a planned act of terrorism.

Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s foreign policy adviser, kept her updated on the developments, the Times reported:

Two weeks after that first email assessing Ms. Rice’s appearance, Mr. Sullivan sent Mrs. Clinton a very different email. This time, he appeared to reassure the secretary of state that she had avoided the problems Ms. Rice was confronting. He told Mrs. Clinton that he had reviewed her public remarks since the attack and that she had avoided the language that had landed Ms. Rice in trouble.

“You never said ‘spontaneous’ or characterized their motivations,” Mr. Sullivan wrote.

Hilarious, so she’s not responsible for what her effective understudy, Susan Rice did in her place, in their view. That she didn’t answer questions on the Sunday shows because she was “too tired”.

Actually, Mr. Sullivan, Hillary did characterize the motivation.

About 10:00 p.m.: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issues a statement confirming that one State official was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Her statement, which MSNBC posted at 10:32 p.m., made reference to the anti-Muslim video.

Clinton: Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

Subsequently, over the next few days, she continued to refer to the video.

When meeting the bodies of the dead with the family, she lied to the families, saying that the government was going to “arrest the man behind the video” which, of course, they went on to do.

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Corruption Update: Hillary’s Top State Department Aides Used Private Emails Too (Video)

Hillary’s Top Two Aides Used Personal Email At State Department – Weekly Standard

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Stephen F. Hayes reported on Fox News that Hillary Clinton’s top two aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, used personal emails while working for the secretary of state at the State Department:

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“Two of Hillary Clinton’s top aides used personal email while they were employed at the State Department, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills. Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff. The State Department has evidence of this.

“And the question I think become: were they emailing with Hillary Clinton from their personal email addresses to her personal email address about State Department business, about Benghazi, including sensitive classified information?Those are questions that I think that Trey Gowdy and the House Benghazi committee is going to want to look at very carefully.”

Hayes went on to explain, “This is the key point. Yesterday, she said look, when I was doing State Department business I was emailing to people who on the receiving end of her emails had .gov email addresses and therefore the emails, the documents would have been retained. What this suggests is that others were using non-.gov emails, their personal emails, and if they communicated with her in that manner those emails with her will be lost unless they’re compelled to provide them.”

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Democrat Senator Menendez To Be Indicted On Federal Corruption Charges

Democrat Senator Bob Menendez To Be Indicted On Corruption – Townhall

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According to an exclusive report published first by CNN, Democrat Senator Bob Menendez will be indicted by the Department of Justice on federal corruption charges.

The Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts.

People briefed on the case say Attorney General Eric Holder has signed off on prosecutors’ request to proceed with charges, CNN has learned exclusively. An announcement could come within weeks. Prosecutors are under pressure in part because of the statute of limitation on some of the allegations.

The government’s case centers on Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist who the senator has called a friend and political supporter. Melgen and his family have been generous donors to the senator and various committees the senator is associated with.

Menendez has been under fire over the past three years for allegations of hiring underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, for accepting suspicious campaign donations and much more. Yahoo has a rundown of the scandals surrounding Menendez here.

I should point out that the timing of the indictment is interesting. Menendez has been a harsh critic of President Obama’s policy and negotiations with Iran and has been a staunch supported of Israel.

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Cop-Hating Mayor De Blasio Defends NY Assembly Speaker Who Was Just Arrested On Federal Corruption Charges

NYC Mayor: Powerful Dem Charged With Corruption Is A ‘Man Of Integrity’ – TPM

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) said on Thursday that New York’s powerful and longtime Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D) was “a man of integrity” despite having just been arrested and charged with corruption.

Silver surrendered to federal authorities earlier in the day after being charged with allegedly taking millions of dollars in bribes. However, de Blasio stood by the speaker during a news conference at City Hall.

“Although the charges announced today are certainly very serious, I want to note that I’ve always known Shelly Silver to be a man of integrity, and he certainly has due process rights,” de Blasio said. “And I think it’s important that we let the judicial process play out here.”

De Blasio noted that “allegations are allegations” and said he didn’t believe Silver should step down at this point.

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Leftist Corruption Update: 3.4M Obamacare Subsidy Recipients May Owe Refunds To The IRS

Half Of Obamacare Subsidy Recipients May Owe Refunds To The IRS – Washington Examiner

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As many as 3.4 million people who received Obamacare subsidies may owe refunds to the federal government, according to an estimate by a tax preparation firm.

H&R Block is estimating that as many as half of the 6.8 million people who received insurance premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act benefited from subsidies that were too large, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

“The ACA is going to result in more confusion for existing clients, and many taxpayers may well be very disappointed by getting less money and possibly even owing money,” the president of a tax preparation and education school told the Journal.

While the Affordable Care Act fines those who don’t have health insurance, it also provides subsidies for people making up to four times the federal poverty line ($46,680).

But the subsidies are based on past tax returns, so many people may be receiving too much, according to Vanderbilt University assistant professor John Graves, who projects the average subsidy is $208 too high, the Journal reports.

Tax preparers, who frequently advertise their ability to deliver big refunds, have been working feverishly to avoid customer anger stemming from lower-than-expected refunds due to insurance premiums. They also are trying to make sure customers understand the potential fines for not having insurance.

“Eighty-five percent of our customers get a refund,” said Kathy Pickering, who directs the H&R Block Tax Institute, according to the Washington Post. “That refund could be offset by the penalty. And if that happens, they’re going to be understandably angry.”

The fine for not having insurance in the second year of Obamacare is $325 or 2 percent of taxable income, whichever is greater.

But the IRS is also working on a budget that limits its ability to aggressively enforce reporting on insurance.

“As always, taxpayers are responsible for the accuracy of the information on the tax returns that they sign,” an IRS spokesman told the Journal.

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