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Grand jury investigates senator’s ties to wealthy donor

Senator Robert Menendez


Senator Robert Menendez

WASHINGTON — Senator Robert Menendez is being investigated by a Miami federal grand jury for his role in advocating for the business interests of a wealthy donor and friend.

The Washington Post, which first reported the investigation, said agents have questioned witnesses about the interactions between Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen.

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The grand jury issued subpoenas for Melgen’s business and financial records.

A spokeswoman for Menendez, Tricia Enright, did not respond to a question about whether the senator is under investigation but issued a statement saying, “We ­welcome any review because Senator Menendez’s actions have always been appropriate.”

Federal agents have not contacted Menendez, a person told the Post. The newspaper said Melgen declined to say Thursday whether he knew anything about the investigation, but he said any inquiry would find no wrongdoing.

Melgen attorney Kirk Ogrosky said the eye doctor was proud of his relationship with the senator and had no worries.

Menendez and Melgen’s overlapping interests have repeatedly raised questions in recent months. Menendez was compelled to reimburse $58,000 for two flights to the Dominican Republic aboard Melgen’s private jet for personal trips in 2010 that he previously had failed to report, prompting scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Menendez also has acknowledged contacting US health agencies to question their billing practices and policies amid a dispute between Melgen and federal authorities.

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