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.

The Back Room

Sweeney goes on offense

Days after Jersey City Mayor (and 2017 gubernatorial hopeful) Steve Fulop declared his support and fundraising devotion to South Jersey Congressional candidate Bill Hughes, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3) see-sawed onto Fulop's turf with his own "I can find pockets of love in every part of this state including JC" statement.

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Wake-Up Call

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Paterson can flourish with a second chance

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Quote of the Day

Quote of the day

"This is my first Mark Smith event. There have been a lot of changes in Hudson County over the last year and a half, and the most important change that has happened is that there really is unity. For the first time, we really are working together. Despite political differences. Mark and I have worked very hard to repair that. I'm really happy to be here in support of him, because I recognize that when you work together, politics becomes secondary and you really have time to focus on government, which is the most important thing." - Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop

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