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Archive: January, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 10:59 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)

The FBI is investigating possible corruption involving New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and Florida eye surgeon Salomon Melgen, The Miami Herald reported today.

FBI agents raided Melgen’s offices Tuesday night, but the agency would not comment on the nature of its investigation. The Herald reports today that the raid was primarily focused on potential Medicare fraud involving Melgen, but that a separate corruption investigation is also ongoing. The newspaper did not cite its sources.

POSTED: Thursday, January 31, 2013, 5:08 PM
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, during the committee's hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON -- Salomon Melgen, the South Florida eye surgeon with close ties to New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, and subject of an FBI investigation, "acted appropriately at all times" the doctor's attorney said today.

"The government has not informed Dr. Melgen what concerns it may have," said an e-mailed statement from the lawyer, Dean Willbur Jr. "We are confident that Dr. Melgen has acted appropriately at all times. Additionally, any issues concerning Dr. Melgen and the IRS have been fully resolved and satisfied."

POSTED: Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 2:36 PM
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.

Updated with new comments from Sen. Menendez below.

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez denied allegations reported online that he used prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, issuing a statement Wednesday afternoon after the FBI raided the offices of a friend also tied to the accusations.

"Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false," said a statement from Menendez's office.

POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2013, 4:26 PM
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013, during the committee's hearing on the deadly September attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez joined a high profile coalition of Senators Monday afternoon to unveil an immigration reform platform that will help set the terms for a national debate on the contentious issue over the coming months.

“I am the most optimistic I have been in quite some time,” Menendez, a Democrat, said at an afternoon press conference carried live on cable news networks and featuring Senate heavyweights such as John McCain, Marco Rubio, Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin. The press conference was jammed with cameras and reporters, leaving some to watch on televisions outside the room.

POSTED: Thursday, January 24, 2013, 4:20 PM
An array of assault weapons that would be banned by a new bill unveiled by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. (Jonathan Tamari / Staff)

WASHINGTON -- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey joined some of the Senate’s leading Democrats and several shooting victims today to unveil a new bill to ban assault weapons.

Nutter, speaking to a packed room in a Senate office building, told a story about how, months into his term as mayor, an assailant using an AK-47 killed a Philadelphia police officer.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 2:00 PM
In one of many mock swearings-in Thursday on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah glad-hands it with House Speaker John Boehner. (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON -- Philadelphia-area members of the House stuck to their party lines today on a Republican plan to temporarily lift the nation's debt ceiling and avoid, for now, the threat of a government default.

Republicans from the Philadelphia suburbs and South Jersey all joined the majority of their GOP colleagues in voting for the measure, which passed 285-144. Republicans proposed the measure to avoid a potential confrontation on the issue, and attached a plan that would prevent members of Congress from getting paid unless they pass a federal budget.

Democrats from the area all voted against the plan, as did most Democrats in the House. They worried that a short extension -- close to four months -- would still leave uncertainty hanging over the economy.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 11:21 AM
FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 file photog (AP)

WASHINGTON -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker leads Sen. Frank Lautenberg by 21 points in a potential head-to-head match up, a Quinnipiac University poll said today.

The survey was released one day after Lautenberg suggested Booker, a fellow Democrat, deserved a "spanking" for the way he has openly maneuvered toward a New Jersey Senate seat that Lautenberg currently holds. Booker responded (maybe) obliquely on Twitter.

Lautenberg is up for re-election in 2014, but Booker is far more popular, the poll found. Voters give him a 54-16 approval rating, compared to 42-32 for Lautenberg.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 9:10 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 -- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez is leading a highly-charged hearing this morning in which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will testify about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, providing a preview of what will likely be a new, powerful role for Menendez.

Menendez, a Democrat, is presiding over the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in place of Sen. John Kerry, the panel’s chairman who is expected to soon be confirmed as Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State. Once that happens, Menendez is expected to become chairman, giving him control of an influential committee that oversees how the Obama administration interacts with the rest of the world.

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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