Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-House Attorneys Side with Menendez in Corruption Case

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ex-House Attorneys Side with Menendez in Corruption Case

Article excerpt

Sen. Bob Menendez got some friendly support in his efforts to have the appeal of his corruption indictment reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court from five high-profile attorneys who have served as general counsel to Congress.

The attorneys, collectively titled former general counsels of the U.S. House of Representatives, filed an amicus brief or "friend of the court" argument this week. In the brief, they sided with the senator and asked the high court to take up the case, saying that the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges got it wrong when they ruled against him last year.

Menendez has pleaded not guilty to charges that he traded favors for political donations from a Florida doctor. The prosecution paused when his attorneys appealed to the 3rd Circuit, arguing that under constitutional protections, members of Congress can't be challenged by the other branches for actions they take in legislative speech or debate.

Attorneys for Menendez, the Justice Department and the former general counsels declined to comment.

The senator is accused of using his position to help a friend, Florida eye specialist Salomon Melgen, by questioning Medicare officials and setting up meetings that other senators held over a regulation that was at the heart of a $9 million dispute between the doctor and the federal government.

Prosecutors allege that, in exchange, Melgen gave $700,000 in contributions to political committees that helped the Paramus Democrat win re-election in 2012. They also claim that Melgen gave the senator rides in his personal jet, let him stay in the doctor's Dominican Republic resort home and paid for a Paris hotel suite.

Melgen pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. He faces separate federal health care fraud charges and a trial in Florida.

Third Circuit judges ruled that there was "substantial" support for the lower court judge to rule that meetings the senator set up were not protected by the constitutional protections that Menendez is claiming. …

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