Menendez Addresses Report of Corruption Charges at America Star Event

March 23, 2015 | Politics
Sen. Bob Menendez was in Garwood touting the America Star program.

By Michael Aron
Chief Political Correspondent

“I’ll say the same thing I said two weeks ago when there was a different press report, and that is that I have always acted appropriately and legally,” said Sen. Bob Menendez.

Menendez was responding to this morning’s Wall Street Journal report that federal corruption charges against him could be filed as early as this week.

The report cited anonymous sources close to the investigation, which prompted a question about what he thinks of a Justice Department that leaks.

“Well, look, I’m not gonna get into that. I will say one thing. Leaks are in violation of the law. All of us who care about justice and the law should be concerned about where those leaks come from — even if you are the press and you happen to take advantage of the leaks — but you have to wonder when there is a violation of the law and no one seems to be obsessed with that question of the violation of the law. So all I can say is, we will respond to any issues, any inquiries, any allegations, when and if the time comes,” Menendez said.

The allegations revolve around Menendez’s relationship with Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida ophthalmologist.

At issue is whether the senator went to bat for Melgen in Washington in return for campaign donations or in ways that otherwise broke the law.

Menendez was at a ballpoint pen manufacturing company this morning to promote legislation he is introducing and noted with sarcasm all the media that turned out.

“I’m glad to see that we have such great interest in the American Star program,” he said.

Patterned on the Energy Star program, Menendez’s bill would award an America Star to businesses that put the interest of their workers and the community ahead of profits and CEO compensation.

“Consumers lack information on how companies treat our workforce. In fact, 76 percent of American consumers say a company’s treatment of its workers would impact their purchasing decisions,” Menendez said.

The U.S. Department of Labor would administer the program.

The Pen Company of America in Garwood is a fourth generation family business with 51 employees.

Promoting manufacturing and fending off questions about a criminal investigation may seem incongruous, but for Bob Menendez, in the spring of 2015 it’s all in a day’s work.