Senate

Attorneys: Prosecuting Menendez Won't Be Easy

Peddling favors is hard to prove

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Veteran prosecutors and defense attorneys said Friday the government faces a formidable challenge in building a public corruption case against Sen. Robert Menendez, who is reportedly under investigation by a federal grand jury in Miami over his relationship with a wealthy donor.

Menendez has intervened with federal agencies on several occasions to advance the business interests of Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who is one of his biggest supporters. Records show the senator's help was often followed by tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Melgen.

"You must show a specific connection between whatever thing of value you are alleging was given and an official act," Stanley Brand, a veteran Washington defense lawyer on public corruption cases, said in a telephone interview. "The (Justice) Department has shied away from it because it's so difficult."