Some of you may find this Hudson County political story worthy of discussion.
From today’s Journal.
New subpoenas sent in Menendez probe
It was nearly a year ago, during the heat of U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s election campaign, when federal investigators caused an uproar by issuing a subpoena for records of a real estate deal Menendez made.
The investigation yielded no criminal charges, and by the start of summer Menendez’s attorneys asked federal prosecutors to declare him exonerated.
Not only was that request ignored, according to sources with knowledge of the meeting, but in recent weeks new subpoenas went out, delving into other matters involving the Hudson County Democrat.
Tom O’Neil, a spokesman for the Jersey City Medical Center, confirmed last week that the hospital has received two subpoenas from federal investigators. He said hospital officials were gathering documents to fully cooperate with authorities. He declined to disclose details.
The subpoenas, according to people familiar with the command, are for records regarding government-relations consulting contracts. The subpoenas were signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Constable, the prosecutor spearheading the Menendez case. The subpoenas are related to that probe, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
Only a handful of lobbyists have worked for the hospital in recent years, and among them was Menendez’s former chief of staff, Kay LiCausi. She earned a total of $280,000 from the hospital from 2003 until her contract ended earlier this year, according to hospital officials.
Critics have previously raised questions about the senator’s relationship with his former aide because after LiCausi left his office, she quickly built a successful lobbying firm enlisting clients, such as the hospital, that rely on government funding.
LiCausi did not return calls for comment.
On Thursday, Jonathan Metsch, who served as president and chief executive of the Jersey City Medical Center when LiCausi worked for the hospital, testified before a grand jury, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. Metsch, who resigned last year, did not return a call for comment.
The latest developments indicate a new direction for the investigation, which began last year during the heated U.S. Senate campaign between Menendez and Republican state Sen. Tom Kean.
About two months before Election Day, federal investigators subpoenaed documents from the North Hudson Community Action Corp. regarding a Union City building that the nonprofit agency rented from Menendez between 1994 and 2003.
Menendez handily defeated Kean in November, but the investigation heated up afterward. In December, a grand jury heard testimony from the woman who purchased the building from Menendez and an official with North Hudson Community Action who was familiar with the lease.
Lawyers for both said last week that federal authorities were no longer asking them about that matter.
Last November, prosecutors also subpoenaed Danielle Leigh, Menendez’s former campaign fund-raiser, to appear before the grand jury. Leigh had abruptly quit Menendez’s campaign earlier in the year, before the investigation began.
Menendez has enlisted two prominent criminal defense attorneys: Marc Elias and Alfred DeCotiis. Elias said last week: “We remain confident and hopeful that this entire matter will be brought to a conclusion and it will be clear to everyone that what we’ve said all along is true: Senator Menendez has acted ethically and lawfully in all of his dealings.”