Bribes, Payoffs, and Politics: Feds subpoena records of Menendez rental deal

Feds subpoena records of Menendez rental deal

Federal investigators have subpoenaed records of a rental deal between U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez and a non-profit agency in Union City, launching a criminal investigation that is sure to rock New Jersey’s hotly contested Senate race.

Authorities delivered the subpoena to the North Hudson Community Action Corp. earlier this week, according to three sources familiar with the move who requested anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

The action comes two weeks after The Star-Ledger reported that Menendez collected over $300,000 from the organization over a nine-year period while he represented Hudson County in the U.S. House of Representatives. During that period, he also helped the agency win millions of dollars in federal funding. [READ RELATED ARTICLE]

State Sen. Tom Kean Jr., Menendez’s Republican challenger, has called the arrangement a case of profiting from official action. Two of his Republican allies filed an ethics complaint against Menendez in Congress, accusing him of a conflict of interest. Independent watchdog groups have also said it was a conflict for Menendez to seek federal funds on behalf of his tenant.

Menendez’s spokesman said tonight that the senator has nothing to fear from the investigation, and questioned the timing of the action by the U.S. Attorney’s office, considering the election is two months away.

“This transaction was already approved by the House Ethics Committee, and the U.S. attorney will find that Bob Menendez did nothing but support a well-respected agency in the exact same manner that he has supported other non-profits in the state,” Miller said.

“We’re troubled by the timing of this subpoena in the middle of a political campaign, but the facts are that the NHCAC has received federal funds for over 35 years because they provide education and health care services to New Jerseyans who need it the most,” he said.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie declined to comment. Christie is a Republican who was appointed by President George W. Bush, but has won wide, bipartisan support for pursuing public corruption cases involving both political parties.

Kean issued a statement through his campaign office saying “After years of embarrassment, it should be perfectly clear to New Jerseyans that we must have leaders with the highest ethical integrity. Today’s developments illustrate the need to clean up the corruption and scandal that has plagued Washington D.C. and our state, so we can finally restore the public’s faith in government.”

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