Menendez sponsored bill to benefit big donor

posted at 9:21 am on March 4, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The more the media looks into the ties between Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and his big donor and private-jet provider Salomon Melgen, the more potential corruption floats to the surface. Today, the Associated Press discovers that Melgen turns out to be one of the big investors in a company that would have benefited from Menendez’ sponsorship of legislation to provide federal subsidies to natural-gas conversions for automobiles (via JWF):

Sen. Robert Menendez sponsored legislation with incentives for natural gas vehicle conversions that would benefit the biggest political donor to his re-election, the same eye doctor whose private jet Menendez used for two personal trips to the Dominican Republic, an Associated Press investigation found. …

Dr. Salomon Melgen invested in Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp. of Weston, Fla., and joined its board of directors in early 2010, according to the company’s chief executive and a former company consultant. GFS, as the company is known, designs, manufactures and sells products to convert diesel-fuel fleets to natural gas. The amount of Melgen’s investment is confidential under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but a 2009 document filed with the SEC showed the company required a minimum individual investment at that time of $51,500.

At the same time, Menendez emerged as a principal supporter of a natural gas bill that would boost tax credits and grants to truck and heavy vehicle fleets that converted to alternative fuels. The bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, and after it was revived in 2012, the NAT GAS Act failed to win the needed 60 votes to pass.

The AP tries to offer some objective distance from a rather obvious conclusion:

There is no evidence that Menendez offered direct help or intervened on behalf of the company or Melgen. Instead, the connection between the two men’s interests in natural gas is the latest example of the close symmetry between the senator — who recently rose to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee— and his millionaire backer. It illustrates the way Menendez’s political clout has at times overlapped with Melgen’s financial investments.

There isn’t any direct evidence, but this looks mighty suspicious, especially when viewed as part of a pattern.  First, an eye doctor sets up shop as a port-security specialist at the same time he’s wooing a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who just happens to get interested in the Dominican Republic’s ability to protect shipping at the same time Melgen’s giving him private-jet rides to the DR.  Next, the eye doctor suddenly decides to invest in natural-gas conversions — and there is Senator Robert-On-The-Spot to sponsor a bill that would provide federal cash to companies involved in the effort.  I may not be a math genius like my son, but I can add two and two together.

To many of us, the NAT GAS proposal seemed unnecessary and a certain path to even more crony capitalism.  This shows just how justified those suspicions were.  The real question is whether the Senate Ethics Committee will find this objectionable, or whether they will want to protect business as usual.


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First, an eye doctor sets up shop as a port-security specialist at the same time he’s wooing a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who just happens to get interested in the Dominican Republic’s ability to protect shipping at the same time Melgen’s giving him private-jet rides to the DR. Next, the eye doctor suddenly decides to invest in natural-gas conversions — and there is Senator Robert-On-The-Spot to sponsor a bill that would provide federal cash to companies involved in the effort. I may not be a math genius like my son, but I can add two and two together

You know who else is an eye doctor? Bashir Assad.

I guess any profession can have a number of scumbags in it.

rbj on March 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Corruption…It’s what’s for Breakfast

workingclass artist on March 4, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Next, the eye doctor suddenly decides to invest in natural-gas conversions — and there is Senator Robert-On-The-Spot to sponsor a bill that would provide federal cash to companies involved in the effort. I may not be a math genius like my son, but I can add two and two together.

And Hillary Clinton made hundreds of thousands of dollars the first time she invested in cattle futures, Barney Frank didn’t know what was going on in his own home, and Jesse Jackson Jr really didn’t understand that buying a $40K Rolex with campaign funds was wrong.

All possible but utterly unlikely.

We know that access to the President costs $500K for a quarterly meeting. That is pretty steep for most Americans. I’ve got to wonder if Senators are more affordable and if you can bundle them with Representatives for a better rate.

Happy Nomad on March 4, 2013 at 9:32 AM

The real question is whether the Senate Ethics Committee will find this objectionable, or whether they will want to protect business as usual.

You have to know what ethics are in order to find something like this objectionable. Ethics and congress are like oil and water they don’t mix.

chemman on March 4, 2013 at 9:32 AM

Resist We Much on March 4, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Nice. Very, very Nice.

chemman on March 4, 2013 at 9:35 AM

all that this scandal needs is a few hookers to break wide…...er, wait?! /

ted c on March 4, 2013 at 9:38 AM

You know who else is an eye doctor? Bashir Assad.

I guess any profession can have a number of scumbags in it.

rbj on March 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

well, so is Rand Paul…..

;)

ted c on March 4, 2013 at 9:39 AM

and there is Senator Robert-On-The-G-Spot to sponsor a bill that would provide federal cash to companies involved in the effort.

FIFY

ted c on March 4, 2013 at 9:41 AM

NJ’s finest. When does this guy get perp walked out? Oh, he’s a Dem nevermind.

D-fusit on March 4, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Dirtbag.

rplat on March 4, 2013 at 9:51 AM

Business as usual in the US Senate.

They don’t work for us anymore.

fogw on March 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

The libertarian Koch bros. make an appearance in the scandal? Albeit on the side of the angels.

At least that will perk the interest of some up til now skeptical liberals who hate the Kochs. Until they read the whole story, and find out, the Kochs were the good guys, and Menendez and Melgen very bad.

ericdondero on March 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM

To many of us, the NAT GAS proposal seemed unnecessary and a certain path to even more crony capitalism. This shows just how justified those suspicions were. The real question is whether the Senate Ethics Committee will find this objectionable, or whether they will want to protect business as usual.

Nothing will come of the NAT GAS proposal unless there is additional information that is found connecting Melgen and Menendez together on it.

The Senate ethics rules provide cover for situations like this. Melgen certainly would not have been the only one to benefit from the legislation. It would have benefitted numerous companies who had or were going to invest in related technologies. Since others would benefit, there was nothing unethical…at least according to Senate Ethics rules.

It certainly illustrates additional connections between Melgen and Menendez at a time that Menendez needs to distance himself, but this legislation and Melgen’s investment themselves won’t be enough to bring down Menendez. These things happen 20 times a day on the Hill and no one in the Senate wants them to stop.

weaselyone on March 4, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Business as usual in the US Senate.

They don’t work for us anymore.

fogw on March 4, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Yes. This is simply another symptom of the disease. If we keep focusing on the symptoms, we will never find a cure.

Senate Ethics Rules need to be reformed, but in my mind are also just a symptom.

Neraly infinite power and influence of the Federal Government is the true disease.

weaselyone on March 4, 2013 at 10:05 AM

o didn’t even have to sponsor legislation to pay off
his $’s buddy’s . He gave Gulf of Mexico leases to
Chinese companies his bundlers had just , days before ,
invested in !

Lucano on March 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

He’s just playing the Chicago game.

GarandFan on March 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM

You know who else is an eye doctor? Bashir Assad.

I guess any profession can have a number of scumbags in it.

rbj on March 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Don’t knock eye doctors. Rand Paul is one.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Chris Christie: please take note. Run for this seat in ’18 instead of POTUS in ’16. Take this corrupt piece of dirt out.

cdog0613 on March 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

And all of this is a distraction from the Dem’s Excusable Vice (That Is No Vice At All): the charges of prostitution, child prostitution, and cheating a prostitute (compounding concupiscence with covetousness, adding larceny to lust).

njcommuter on March 4, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Business as usual in the US Senate.

They don’t work for us anymore.

CONgress hasn’t worked for us for a long, long time.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2013 at 11:06 AM

Nearly infinite power and influence of the Federal Government is the true disease.

Permanent and irrevocable power and control is the goal, and for what too many of our illustrious politicians strive.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2013 at 11:13 AM

I expect no corrections to this. Menedez being a Gimmedat, the Manure Spreading Media will find nothing worth investigating his slanderous behavior.
Along the lines of: “I didn’t have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky.”

Slightly OT:
Why didn’t RINO Sen. John McLame (and most certainly those Repubs who voted against his nomination), ask to see John F’ing Kerry’s DD-214 prior to voting him to Secretary of State? I mean really, third in line to the presidency for heaven’s sake!

Missilengr on March 4, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Senator Bob Menendez, upholding the reputation of New Jersey Democrat politicians.

xkaydet65 on March 4, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Senator Bob Menendez, upholding the reputation of New Jersey Democrat politicians.

The epitome of Dem Politicians nationwide.

hawkeye54 on March 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Menendez sponsored bill to benefit big donor

Business as usual.

See: Senator Fritz Hollings, D-Disney

Of course, the above is old news, since it was written in 2001 and the referenced legislation failed.

But it’s a reminder that Menendez is not the first or the worst. Just the one in the news right now.

tom on March 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

The AP tries to offer some objective distance from a rather obvious conclusion:

There is no evidence that Menendez offered direct help or intervened on behalf of the company or Melgen. Instead, the connection between the two men’s interests in natural gas is the latest example of the close symmetry between the senator — who recently rose to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee— and his millionaire backer. It illustrates the way Menendez’s political clout has at times overlapped with Melgen’s financial investments.

There isn’t any direct evidence, but this looks mighty suspicious, especially when viewed as part of a pattern. First, an eye doctor sets up shop as a port-security specialist at the same time he’s wooing a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who just happens to get interested in the Dominican Republic’s ability to protect shipping at the same time Melgen’s giving him private-jet rides to the DR. Next, the eye doctor suddenly decides to invest in natural-gas conversions — and there is Senator Robert-On-The-Spot to sponsor a bill that would provide federal cash to companies involved in the effort. I may not be a math genius like my son, but I can add two and two together.

Good job on tracking this, by the way. It’s always easy for defenders to fall back on “it’s just a coincidence that their interests … uh, overlap.” To really make it stick, you have to point out the string of “coincidences,” until it becomes obvious.

I think that’s why squishy Republicans lose so much. They don’t want to be perceived as pushy, but you have to be aggressive to break through the media protection.

tom on March 4, 2013 at 12:05 PM

You know who else is an eye doctor? Bashir Assad.

I guess any profession can have a number of scumbags in it.

rbj on March 4, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Don’t knock eye doctors. Rand Paul is one.

Archivarix on March 4, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Good point. Ron Paul is definitely a lesser scumbag.

Oh wait. You said Rand Paul.

tom on March 4, 2013 at 12:09 PM

More bad stuff that this punk did keeps piling up and the Repubs are doing nothing to punish him!! What is going on? Is there no one with a set of balls to start action against this mutant?? You Repubs better get off your dead asses and start to do something about it instead of worrying about your re-elections and doing nothing! This is why I and many others I know have stopped donating to the Republican organizations! You do nothing for us!!! You won’t get a penny from me while you are acting like pussies and wimps!! WISE UP!!

Jersey Dan on March 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

It illustrates the way Menendez’s political clout has at times overlapped with Melgen’s financial investments.

Shorter AP: Just coincidence. If there were anything other than that, we’d be all over it.

BobMbx on March 4, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Good payday for being Menendez’ pimp.

George on March 4, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Strange. That AP article appears to have forgotten to mention that the reasons for his “personal trips to the Dominican Republic” were so that he could sleep with underage hookers.

I’m sure they’ll fix that, post-haste.

Book on March 4, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Sorry, but I do not believe that ANY legislator that takes ‘cash and prizes’ from someone that happens to have an interest in legislation in front of that legislature is INNOCENT of ANYTHING!

In fact, it is clear that Menendez is a CROOKED politician stuffing his pocket directly with cash and prizes in exchange for his support in directing government cash to his friends pockets.

Freddy on March 4, 2013 at 10:03 PM

Chris Christie: please take note. Run for this seat in ’18 instead of POTUS in ’16. Take this corrupt piece of dirt out.

cdog0613 on March 4, 2013 at 10:20 AM

…good idea!

KOOLAID2 on March 4, 2013 at 10:27 PM