Durbin: Menendez should stay
By Darryl R. Isherwood | February 10th, 2013 - 8:37pm
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The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate said today that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez should keep the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, despite the controversy that continues to roil the political waters around him.

“Sen. Menendez has given us an assurance that there is no substance to these charges,”  Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said on NBC's Meet the Press this morning.  Durbin refused to comment further because of the ethics investigation underway.

Menendez is under fire over his relationship with a major donor to his campaign.  According to news reports, the Senator from Hudson County has intervened with at least three federal departments on behalf of Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend of Menendez who has donated heavily to the Senator over the years.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Menendez had pushed the State Department to intervene on a port security contract that a Melgen-owned company has with the government of the Dominican Republic.  A Washington Post report earlier this week said Menendez had sought clarification of results of a Medicare audit of Melgen's practice - an audit that showed the doctor had overbilled the government by nearly $9 million.

Menendez also faces an ethics investigation over flights he took on Melgen's private plane.  Menendez reimbursed Melgen for the 2010 flights, but not until ealrier this year.

Menendez has denied any wrongdoing.

An editorial in the New York Times printed Saturday called for Menendez to step aside from the chairmanship, at least temporarily, while the ethics investigation runs its course.

Durbin is the second high ranking Democrat to throw his support to Menendez. Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid voiced his backing of Menendez.

Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: September 2nd

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Op-Ed

White House’s Tuition Challenge Being Met in NJ

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Governor Christie ripped President Obama this summer for failing to carve out some time during a Texas fundraising swing to visit the Mexican border, where the unprecedented flood of immigrant children from Central America had reached a crisis point. ...Yet Christie is not squeezing in a tour of the troubled border during his own three-day trade and diplomatic mission to Mexico, which is set to begin on Wednesday. The governor is planning a series of meetings with Mexican officials, including President Enrique Peña Nieto and the finance and energy ministers." - columnist Charles Stile

- The Bergen Record

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Governor Chris Christie's trip to Mexico...:

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