NY Times calls for Menendez’s removal as Chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ethics Investigation
In a scathing editorial that did not mention the prostitution and pedophilia allegations against U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, The New York Times has called for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to remove New Jersey’s junior senator from his newly acquired post as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Robert Menendez was never a distinguished choice for chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the position he ascended to this month by virtue of seniority. Concerns about that quality gap have sharply escalated amid new disclosures about Mr. Menendez’s use of his position to advance the financial interests of a friend and big donor. Instead of trying to protect Mr. Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, needs to remove his gavel, at least pending credible resolution by the Senate Ethics Committee of the swirling accusations of misconduct.
The editorial goes on the summarize how Menendez abused his power as a Senator on the behalf Dr. Salomon Melgen, his friend and benefactor. Menendez held a Senate Sub-Committee hearing, where he was the only senator present, to pressure the State Department to prevail on the Dominican Republic to enforce a contract for port security with a company that Melgen has an ownership interest in. In 2009 and 2012, Menendez contacted federal health care officials to question their rulings that Melgan had over-billed the government $8.9 million in Medicare and Medicaid payments to his Florida eye care clinic.
The editorial concludes,
It appears Mr. Menendez has learned little from his own previous ethics issues or from the fall of a former New Jersey senator, Robert Torricelli, who decided not to run for re-election in 2002 amid allegations that he had inappropriately aided a big donor and accepted expensive gifts. It is unclear whether the Senate Ethics Committee has initiated a formal inquiry into Mr. Menendez’s conduct, but a prompt and thorough review is surely called for. In the meantime, Mr. Menendez needs to relinquish his leadership role, at least temporarily.