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Menendez sets up fund for ethics, Justice probes


WASHINGTON (AP) — New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez’s political campaign paid a law firm $250,000 in December for legal costs related to Justice Department and Senate Ethics Committee investigations into his ties with a major donor. The Democrat also has set up a legal trust to raise money as the investigations continue.

Menendez is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

Disclosure forms filed Friday also show Menendez’s campaign paid more than $11,000 for a 2011 flight on the private plane of Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Menendez had previously reimbursed Melgen nearly $60,000 for other flights.

Menendez’s spokeswoman says Menendez has been fighting a “smear campaign.” Tricia Enright says establishing the legal fund is consistent with ethics procedures.

Enright says not disclosing Menendez’s previously unacknowledged flight on Melgen’s plane was an “oversight.”