As Menendez assumes powerful chairmanship, troubles mount
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The West Palm Beach office of Dr. Salomon Melgen, raided last night by FBI agents
By Darryl R. Isherwood | January 30th, 2013 - 11:36am
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Allegations that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez solicited underage prostitutes during trips to the Dominican Republic are roiling the political landscape today as sharks - in the form of Menendez's enemies - begin to circle.

But the unproven allegations are not the only issue troubling the New Jersey senator as he assumes the chairmanship of the Powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Yesterday, Benedetto Bigica, 45, admitted in federal court that he and his brother Joseph Bigica, funneled $21,400 in illegal contributions to Menendez's campaign.  That guilty pleas follows one from Bigica's brother Joseph last May to steering more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to Menendez.

Menendez was not implicated in either case.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Menendez had employed as an intern an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender.  According to the AP, a source told them that immigration officials were informed of the intern's presence in Menendez's office in October, but were instructed by officials with the Department of Homeland Security to hold off until after the November election.

A Homeland Security official categorically denied the AP report that the arrest was delayed, but documents later released showed DHS actually had delayed the arrest.

Federal Immigration officials in New Jersey advised that the arrest "had the possibility of garnering significant congressional and media interest" and were "advised to postpone the arrest" pending approval from Washington, the documents showed.

There was no indication in the report that Menendez had anything to do with the delay.

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York because the cause is hopeless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ahead by more than 30 points. But he will campaign in New Hampshire, over and over, where the Republican is also trailing by more than 30 points. What’s the reason? It may be that New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary. It may be that he doesn’t want to mess with Cuomo, who knows where the skeletons are buried at the Port Authority. But one thing is certain: Gov. Straight Talk is spinning again. And it seems to be habit-forming." - columnist Tom Moran

- Star-Ledger

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