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Archive: February, 2013

POSTED: Monday, February 11, 2013, 11:17 AM
NJ Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender who has now been arrested by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents to wait weeks and not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON -- The pressure is building on New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez.

For the second time in less than two weeks he is on the front page of The New York Times, and not in a good way. The Times has another story today about efforts from Menendez’s office to help the senator’s friend and donor Salomon Melgen.

This comes after a Times editorial on Saturday called for Menendez to be stripped of his position as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

POSTED: Friday, February 8, 2013, 11:20 AM

WASHINGTON -- As VP Joe Biden prepares for a trip to Philadelphia to push President Obama’s proposals for new gun laws, a new poll shows that most Pennsylvania voters favor new restrictions on firearms.

The Franklin and Marshall College Poll found that 43 percent of registered voters in the state strongly favor “creating more laws that regulate gun ownership” and 15 percent somewhat favor such measures. That’s compared to 28 percent who strongly oppose new regulations and 10 percent who somewhat oppose them.

POSTED: Thursday, February 7, 2013, 10:32 AM

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez twice spoke to federal health officials about a Medicare billing dispute involving his friend and donor Salomon Melgen, the Washington Post reported today, raising more questions about the ties between the Democratic senator and South Florida eye doctor.

Menendez’s interaction on the doctor’s behalf -- once questioning the billing rules and once asking whether federal auditors had been fair to Melgen -- is now the second known time that Menendez has intervened to help Melgen, a major donor whose offices were raided by the FBI last week.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 5, 2013, 4:25 PM
File photo: Freshman U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (Sharon Gekoski-Kimmel / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Pat Meehan, a Republican from Delaware County, was one of four House members today to introduce a new law aimed at cracking down on gun trafficking and “straw purchases.”

Notably, the law was backed by two Republicans -- including one who touted his membership in the NRA -- and two Democrats, representing a rare moment of bipartisan agreement on tightening gun laws, though they were coming together for what the sponsors conceded was a relatively narrow measure, especially compared to calls for broader steps such as universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity clips.

POSTED: Monday, February 4, 2013, 1:22 PM
FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Menendez's office says he traveled on a plane owned by a Florida physician who is a friend and political donor, but denied that the senator had engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

One of the women alleged to be a prostitute connected to New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has denied the claim, which was first put forward by a mysterious e-mailer.

Yaneisi Fernandez told Spanish-language television station Univision she had never seen Menendez before.

POSTED: Monday, February 4, 2013, 6:36 PM
NJ Sen. Robert Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender who has now been arrested by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents to wait weeks and not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez fiercely denied allegations linking him to prostitutes today in his first extended comments to reporters since the accusations broke into widespread circulation last week.

He called the unconfirmed allegations “smears that right wing blogs have been pushing since the election” labeling them “totally unsubstantiated,” in an on-camera interview with CNN.

POSTED: Sunday, February 3, 2013, 3:11 PM
FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Menendez's office says he traveled on a plane owned by a Florida physician who is a friend and political donor, but denied that the senator had engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Under fire New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez got some key words of support Sunday from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who said he had the “utmost confidence” in his fellow Democrat, even while confirming that the Senate ethics committee is taking a look at Menendez’s actions.

“I have confidence he did nothing wrong, but that's what investigations are all about,” Reid said.

He also indicated that Menendez will remain the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a post he was confirmed to last week, making him the face of U.S. foreign policy on Capitol Hill.

POSTED: Friday, February 1, 2013, 4:19 PM
FILE - In this Jan. 28, 2013 file photo, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Menendez's office says he traveled on a plane owned by a Florida physician who is a friend and political donor, but denied that the senator had engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Ethics Committee has an eye on the allegations surrounding New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the panel’s top Republican indicated, as news reports show that Menendez used a public hearing to advocate for a business tied to Salomon Melgen, a South Florida eye doctor now under federal investigation.

"We are aware of the news reports regarding the FBI raid on Dr. Melgen’s office. The Ethics Committee will follow its established procedures in this matter," Sen. Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican, said in a statement. The Washington Post first reported Isakson’s comments and wrote that a review is under way. Isakson is the committee's vice chair.

About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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