Sen. Menendez Denies Corruption Reports: "I Am Not Going Anywhere"

The New Jersey Democrat is expected to be indicted on corruption charges stemming from his relationship with a major donor and Florida ophthalmologist.

The Justice Department is expected to soon charge Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez with corruption, CNN reported Friday afternoon.

Attorney General Eric Holder has approved the charges moving forward, the network reported, but it is unclear when they will be announced.

The charges stem from Menendez's relationship with a donor to his campaign and other Democratic campaigns, a south Florida ophthalmologist named Salomon Melgen.

During a brief press conference Friday evening, Menendez denied any wrongdoing and defended his friendship with Melgen.

"Let me be very, very clear, I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law in every action that I and my office has taken," he said. "I am not going anywhere."

The senator took a series of flights on Melgen's private jet without proper disclosure, which he later admitted. But it's Melgen's business interests — his ophthalmologist practice in Florida and a port contract in the Dominican Republic that would have helped a company Melgen controls — that have drawn more scrutiny.

Menendez twice met with Medicare officials privately, advocating on behalf of Melgen's interests. The ophthalmologist had been accused of overbilling the program.

Menendez also advocated on behalf a port-security company owned by Melgen in the Dominican Republic. Without disclosing the name of Melgen's company or his relationship with him, Menendez argued the U.S. should press for enforcement of a contract worth as much as $500 million over 20 years.

Menendez did not address the allegations against him, but said he and Melgen have attended several family functions together over the years.

"Everyone who knows us know that he and his family, and I and my family have been friends for more than two decades," the senator said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Menendez said "we believe all of Senator's actions have been appropriate and lawful and the facts will ultimately confirm that."

"Any actions taken by Senator Menendez or his office have been to appropriately address public policy issues and not for any other reason," said Tricia Enright, Menedez's communications director.

"The Senator has counted Dr. Melgen as one of his closest personal friends for decades. The two have spent holidays together and have gone to each other's family funerals and weddings and have exchanged personal gifts. As has been reported, the start of this investigation is suspect. We know many false allegations have been made about this matter, allegations that were ultimately publicly discredited. We also know that the official investigation of this matter is ongoing, and therefore cannot address allegations being made anonymously."

Melgen donated thousands to Menendez's campaigns, including $5,000 to his campaign and $10,000 to the New Jersey Democrat State Committee in 2012; he and his wife donated $60,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee when Menendez was the chair. His medical practice also gave $700,000 to Majority PAC, which supports Democratic Senate candidates, in 2012.

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