Menendez 'Severely Admonished' by Senate Ethics Committee, Ordered to Repay Gifts

Menendez 'Severely Admonished' by Senate Ethics Committee, Ordered to Repay Gifts

In a letter, the panel said Menendez "knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value from Dr. Melgen without obtaining required Committee approval, and that you failed to publicly disclose certain gifts as required by Senate Rule and federal law", Politico reported. Bob Menendez for accepting gifts over a six-year period from a wealthy donor, saying his actions brought "discredit upon the Senate". Chris Coons of DE, the Ethics Committee explained in a formal, four-page public letter of admonition dated Thursday that Menendez had not adhered to the Senate's ethics rules in his relationship with Melgen, a long-time friend and campaign donor.

The Ethics Committee, with three Democratic senators and three Republican ones told Menendez to pay for all the remaining improper gifts from Melgin that he had not already been reimbursed. It wasn't immediately clear how much Menendez might owe.

Melgen, in turn, paid for private jets, hotel rooms and forked over almost $75,000 in campaign contributions to Menendez.

The Public Letter of Admonition was signed by all six members of the Senate Ethics Committee: Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen.

The senator couldn't be reached for comment.

The committee began its review of Menendez in 2012 but paused it during the criminal probe, as is custom.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had called on the Ethics Committee to investigate Menendez for possible violations of the public trust and the Senate code of conduct.

The case against him ended in a mistrial in November after the jury deadlocked.

Menendez's trial ended with a hung jury late previous year and Justice Department prosecutors subsequently asked the judge to dismiss the charges against him. He faced 18 counts, including conspiracy, bribery, fraud and honest services fraud, which carried a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Menendez had been accused of accepting trips on Melgen's private jet, hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions, a $1,500-per-night hotel room in Paris, and vacation stays at Melgen's villa in the Dominican Republic.

At trial, Menendez's lawyers said Menendez's actions were motivated by his longtime friendship with Melgen and legitimate policy beliefs.

Menendez went on trial previous year in federal court on bribery charges, but a jury could not reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.

Part of what got Menendez in trouble was his failure to properly report the gifts on disclosure forms.

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