As Menendez assumes powerful chairmanship, troubles mount

Allegations that U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez solicited underage prostitutes during trips to the Dominican Republic are roiling the political landscape today as sharks – in the form of Menendez’s enemies – begin to circle.

But the unproven allegations are not the only issue troubling the New Jersey senator as he assumes the chairmanship of the Powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Yesterday, Benedetto Bigica, 45, admitted in federal court that he and his brother Joseph Bigica, funneled $21,400 in illegal contributions to Menendez’s campaign.  That guilty pleas follows one from Bigica’s brother Joseph last May to steering more than $100,000 in illegal contributions to Menendez.

Menendez was not implicated in either case.

Last month, the Associated Press reported that Menendez had employed as an intern an illegal immigrant who was a registered sex offender.  According to the AP, a source told them that immigration officials were informed of the intern’s presence in Menendez’s office in October, but were instructed by officials with the Department of Homeland Security to hold off until after the November election.

A Homeland Security official categorically denied the AP report that the arrest was delayed, but documents later released showed DHS actually had delayed the arrest.

Federal Immigration officials in New Jersey advised that the arrest “had the possibility of garnering significant congressional and media interest” and were “advised to postpone the arrest” pending approval from Washington, the documents showed.

There was no indication in the report that Menendez had anything to do with the delay.

"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.