The U.S. Justice Department is preparing to file corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) after a two-year investigation into allegations that he accepted gifts and lavish vacations in exchange for political favors for a longtime friend and political benefactor, the New York Times reports. Charges are expected within a month against Menendez, 61, the son of Cuban immigrants who rose from a childhood in the tenements to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is the highest-ranking Latino Democrat in Congress.
With the senator raising money for a legal-defense fund for a year, charges had long been anticipated. The case revolves around the friendship between the senator and Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye surgeon. The two spent holidays together at Dr. Melgen's home in the Dominican Republic. Dr. Melgen eventually delivered hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit enendez and the national Democratic Party. Mr. Menendez accepted two round-trip flights aboard Dr. Melgen's private jet for personal vacations in the Dominican Republic in 2010, but failed to report them as gifts or to reimburse Dr. Melgen at the time, as required under Senate disclosure rules. Menendez said Friday night: “Let me be very, very clear. I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law.”