The Senate Ethics Committee said Thursday that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who avoided conviction in a federal corruption trial last year, violated federal law and Senate rules in accepting unreported gifts from a friend and political ally whom Menendez used his office to assist.
In a four-page “letter of admonition,” the six members of the panel ordered Menendez to pay back the gifts he received from Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, and said that he is “hereby severely admonished.”
“Your assistance to Dr. Melgen under these circumstances demonstrated poor judgment, and it risked undermining the public’s confidence in the Senate,” the letter reads. “As such, your actions reflected discredit upon the Senate.”
The Ethics Committee findings complete a winding, six-year saga that saw Menendez accused of corrupt dealings to benefit a political donor, Melgen, only to see his prosecution end in a mistrial last November after 10 weeks in court.
After the mistrial, most jurors told reporters that they believed Menendez had not committed the crimes that federal prosecutors alleged and a grand jury had charged him with. On Jan. 31, a judge dismissed all charges against Menendez after prosecutors decided not to pursue a second trial.