Senate ethics panel scolds Menendez over gift scandal

The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday formally admonished Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey over his relationship with fat-cat pal and donor Dr. Salomon Melgen.

In a letter, the panel said Menendez “knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value from Dr. Melgen without obtaining required Committee approval, and that you failed to publicly disclose certain gifts as required by Senate Rule and federal law,“ Politico reported.

Menendez had returned to his position as the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, a seat he surrendered after he was indicted on bribery and corruption charges in 2015.

The case against him ended in a mistrial in November after the jury deadlocked.

In January, the federal judge hearing the case threw out the most serious bribery charge against him, and a week later, the feds dropped the rest of the charges.

But Menendez fears his troubles are not over, and that Russia will target him in his bid for reelection in November.

“I”m a great target for their next efforts,” Menendez said Thursday, reported.

“It’s well known that they are in the midst of engaging in our elections generally as we speak. The whole system is under assault, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

“No one has pushed Russian sanctions harder than I have,” Menendez said. “So if you can mess around with an election, why not?”

Menendez will face former Celgene Corp. executive Bob Hugin, and is a strong favorite to win a third term.

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