‘Clear and unmistakable’ pattern of corruption, say Feds of Sen. Menendez

Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 9.23.54 AMSure, I’d like to see Sen. Bob Menendez retired, permanently. He has been a thorn on Cuba’s side for too long. The New Jersey politician, who often acts more like a don than a public official, has done more harm than good to the island nation, and if the allegations are true, has enriched himself while supposedly serving the public.

Menendez, a so-called Cuban-American member of the U.S. Senate, was actually born in the U.S. and has never set foot in Cuba. Still, he harps as if he knew what he was talking about when it comes to the island, often repeating what are essentially talking points provided by the anti-Cuba industry, which newspaper accounts have shown is also mired in corruption.

So the news that appeared this morning in The Washington Post does please me. Not that corruption pleases me, mind you, especially when it involves politicians that supposedly represent us.

The Washington Post (Aug. 25) reports that “Federal prosecutors on Monday defended their two-year-long corruption investigation of Sen. Robert Menendez, saying they have found a ‘clear and unmistakable’ pattern in which the New Jersey Democrat accepted favors in exchange for helping a wealthy patron.”

Sen. Menendez was indicted in April 2015. It involves a close friend, south Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, a co-defendant in the Menendez indictment, who also faces another indictment for allegedly bilking Medicare of millions of dollars.

In another article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal regarding Menendez and Melgen, they report that yesterday’s “court filing suggested that a number of high-profile elected officials, including Mr. [Senate Democratic Leader Harry] Reid … might have to testify at the planned trial.”

The Journal also reports that an August 2012 meeting between Menendez, Reid, former Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius and other high-ranking health officials might be a key piece to the prosecution’s case.

“Prosecutors say those participants made clear that the meeting took place so that Mr. Menendez could try to persuade authorities to reverse their position in the billing dispute with Dr. Melgen,” reported The Wall Street Journal, adding, “According to the FBI notes of her interview, Ms. Sebelius said Mr. Menendez ‘was advocating on behalf of Melgen and used his (Melgen’s) situation as an example. Sebelius did not recall Menendez using any other examples other than Melgen’s example,’ the court filing states.”

This looks like a case “with legs,” as some would say. It may take years to resolve, though.

“The charges in this case are the result of an exhaustive, focused, and disciplined investigation by career prosecutors and professional law enforcement agents over the course of more than two years,” prosecutors wrote, according to The Washington Post. They also state that “investigators found ‘repeated and substantial use of defendant Menendez’s power and influence to further the personal whims and financial interests of defendant Melgen. No ordinary constituent from New Jersey received the same treatment, and the quid pro quo outlined in the indictment is clear and unmistakable.’”

Kirk Ogrosky and Abbe Lowell, attorneys for Melgen and Menendez respectively, said they will file their response to the court in mid-September. “We stand behind the motions and remain confident that both defendants will be vindicated,” the lawyers said in a statement.

Here’s my suggestion for Sen. Menendez: Talk to the prosecutors; work out a deal. And get the hell out of the U.S. Senate. You’ve been there long enough. Your nest egg (wherever it’s hidden) should be big enough by now. There’s also your retirement pay from the Senate, a pity in your case, but it should provide you with a living wage for the rest of your life.

I believe that you (Sen. Menendez) can take this step now and finally do something good for Cuba… or spend time in the pokey later. Sounds like a good deal, if you asked me.

By Álvaro Fernández, Progreso Weekly

August 25, 2015

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