NEWARK – Prosecutors and defense attorneys in the federal corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez closed the day battling over hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to super PACs made by Menendez’s friend and co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen.
Jake Perry, a lobbyist who worked for the Democratic-affiliated Majority PAC, said he first met Melgen at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington, DC and looked to court him as a donor. Perry, who was called by the prosecution to testify, said he later took a three-day Dominican vacation with the doctor at his villa in Casa de Campo but never actually asked Melgen for any money.
Nonetheless, Perry was not above taking credit for Melgen’s eventual donation, writing about it in an email to a colleague.
“Dr. Sal came through!” Perry wrote. “Definitely worth my trip to the Dominican Republic.”
Melgen’s $600,000 total donation was six times higher than the next largest sole contributor to Majority PAC that cycle, Perry testified.
But just a few days after his October 2012 donation, Melgen forwarded along a packet of information of his own about the Medicare fraud case against him.
“Jake- Please find attached memo with the latest developments,” Melgen wrote to Perry.
During cross-examinaton however, Perry admitted the information was to be passed along to Reid, not Menendez, and that Melgen made an additional $100,000 donation that was not earmarked to be spent on the New Jersey Senate race.
Menendez defense attorney Jenny Kramer got Perry to admit in her cross-examination that the 2012 election was the first use of super PACs. Additionally, Democrats had reason to be concerned the campaign would not be a cakewalk, partially due to the popularity of Republican Gov. Chris Christie at the time.
Outside the courthouse at the end of the trial day, Menendez briefly addressed the throng of media waiting for him. Menendez pointed out he is still sponsoring legislation despite the trial, gave President Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico a D grade, and declined to address the trial itself.
“We’ll make our argument in court,” Menendez said.
The trial will not meet tomorrow or Friday and is in recess on Monday due to the Columbus Day holiday. It will resume Tuesday, October 10.