U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday on charges of federal corruption, the Department of Justice announced.
The federal grand jury indicted Menendez on 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and wire fraud.
The charges stem from a lengthy investigation by the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigations into whether Menendez used his Senate office to advance the business interests of a top Democratic donor, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, in return for various gifts. Melgen was also indicted on 13 counts.
“Government corruption – at any level of elected office – corrodes the public trust and weakens our democratic system,” said Leslie Caldwell, the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. “It is the fundamental responsibility of the Department of Justice to hold public officials accountable by conducting thorough investigations and seeking an indictment when the facts and the law support it.”
The Justice Department first opened an investigation in 2013 into the relationship between Menendez and Melgen. Menendez ended up re-paying $58,000 in costs accumulated from flights on Melgen’s private plane that he had not disclosed.
Menendez has insisted during the investigation that all of his actions have been “lawful and appropriate.” A spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
Menendez is the Democratic ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a key player in shaping U.S. foreign policy. He has been in office since 2006.
Menendez is the father of Fusion host Alicia Menendez.
Brett LoGiurato is the senior national political correspondent at Fusion, where he covers all things 2016. He'll give you everything you need to know about politics, with a healthy side of puns.