Posted: 04/01/2015 3:58 pm EDT Updated: 12 minutes ago
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Wednesday was indicted on public corruption charges for allegedly accepting bribes from a Florida ophthalmologist in exchange for using his position to push the doctor's interests, according to a Justice Department official.
Menendez was indicted on a total of 14 charges: one count of conspiracy, one count of violating the Travel Act, eight counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud and one count of making a false statement.
The FBI had been investigating whether Menendez received items of value in exchange for taking official actions on behalf of his friend and donor Dr. Salomon Melgen, who was the subject of a separate investigation into his billing practices.
Menendez has denied any wrongdoing, and the case could rest on questions about the reach of the "speech and debate" clause of the Constitution, which makes it very difficult for members of Congress to be prosecuted for their official acts, and difficult for federal investigators to access materials that may implicate members of Congress.
The senator from New Jersey never reported flights he took on Melgen's jet in 2010, but said he reimbursed the donor for nearly $60,000 in early 2010. Menendez set up an ethics fund to fight the investigations last year.
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