Embattled Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is raising money to stave off legal bills he expects to continue accumulating as federal prosecutors probe his campaign for potentially illegal activity.
The Democratic chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee has set up a legal defense fund to raise unlimited sums of money as his litigation expenses have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to recent campaign finance disclosures. The newest filings show $200,000 paid for legal services in 2023 alone.
In a statement, the senator’s office rebuffed accusations of illegal campaign activity.
“Senator Menendez is confident that this official inquiry will be successfully closed, but as it is still unresolved he will be opening a separate legal defense fund so as not to drain any further campaign funds,” said a Menendez spokesperson.
Sources told NBC News that the prosecutorial probe relates to an exclusive government contract obtained by a New Jersey-based meat processor with the nation of Egypt. As chair of Foreign Relations, Senator Menendez would likely have a conflict of interest by being involved with any dealing between another foreign nation and a home-state business soliciting overseas contracts. Specifically, investigators are working to determine whether Menendez directed any of the United States’ $2 billion in Egyptian foreign aid to the New Jersey company, sources said.
The CEO and general counsel for EG Halal, the meat processing company, have donated modest amounts to the senator over the years. Antranig “Andy” Aslanian Jr., the attorney, was subpoenaed last year in connection with the investigation.
The latest case is far from the first legal saga to embroil New Jersey’s senior senator. Nearly a decade ago, Senator Menendez batted away election-year accusations that he slept with underage prostitutes during a trip to the Dominican Republic. More recently, a corruption case charging the senator with accepting bribes ended in a mistrial in 2017.