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Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez. Source: AP.
Democratic Senator from New Jersey, Bob Menendez. Source: AP.

The Senate’s Ethics Committee will not forgive Menendez

Even if the Justice Department gives up on the case, the Senate Ethics Committee has "severely admonished" the New Jersey Senator for "breaking the rules."

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This is a stain that Menendez will not be able to remove from his jacket.

The Senate Ethics Committee has issued a letter last Thursday "admonishing Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey for accepting gifts without proper approval from a wealthy ophthalmologist and returning in kind with political favors," CNN reported.

The Committee's decision is the result of the resumption of its investigation into the case, which had been suspended in 2012 once the Department of Justice intervened to evaluate the charges.

"After the trial in November, the committee resumed its investigation," the paper said, citing the document.

Although the Department of Justice determined not to continue the trial, the Senate Ethics Committee has decided that Menendez must "repay the fair market value of all impermissible gifts not already repaid, and amend the Financial Disclosure reports to include all reportable gifts," the letter concludes. "Finally, by this letter, you are hereby severely admonished."

According to the research carried out by the Committee, Menendez accepted "for more than six years, 19 stays in a villa in the Dominican Republic, free private and commercial jet trips, as well as a luxury stay in Paris all without paying fair market value," explained NBC Philadelphia. In addition, the Committee determined that the New Jersey senator "used his office and power to help Melgen try to get out of $ 8.9 million in Medicare overbilling; helped the eye doctor to try to secure a port security deal potentially worth tens of millions; and tried to secure visas for Dr. Melgen’s overseas girlfriends.

For the Committee, Menendez's assistance to Melgen under these circumstances "demonstrated poor judgment, and it risked undermining the public’s confidence in the Senate. As such, your actions reflected discredit in the Senate," reads the letter signed by a group of senators led by Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Christopher Coon (D-DE).

For his part, Dr. Melgen was convicted in a separate trial in Florida "for stealing about $ 100 million from Medicare," and could spend the rest of his life in prison.

But, according to a top Democratic aide to CNN, "the Committee's admonishment letter won’t affect Menendez's standing in the caucus or committees," resuming his position as top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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