Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has a million reasons to fight the federal corruption charges brought against him earlier this year — 1.5 million, to be precise.
Menendez's lawyers reported to Senate authorities Wednesday that more than 400 individuals and companies donated a total of $1.5 million to his legal defense fund in the second quarter — representing another strong indication that Menendez is determined to fight allegations that he used his office to benefit a Florida businessman who had given him political contributions and free vacations.
The donors include some familiar names in the world of big-money politics — starting with Republican mega-donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who each donated the maximum $10,000. Other donors include real estate and media investor Mortimer Zuckerman, entertainment mogul Haim Saban, the pro-Israel National Action Committee, and former Energy secretary and U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson.
Menendez is currently a key player in the Senate debates over recent diplomatic overtures to Iran and Cuba as one of the fiercest Democratic critics of President Obama's foreign policy.
The new disclosures cover the three months that followed Menendez's April 1 indictment by federal authorities. Menendez has strongly denied breaking the law in assisting the businessman, Salomon Melgen, whom Menendez has called a close personal friend. His case is proceeding toward trial, with a court conference set for July 22 in Newark.
Menendez's legal expenditures during the three months ran in excess of $830,000, with most going to the firm of Chadbourne & Parke, whose partner Abbe Lowell is leading Menendez's legal defense. Another $30,000 went to public relations and fundraising expenses.
Tricia Enright, a spokeswoman for Menendez, said the fundraising "represents the depth and breadth of support for him in New Jersey and across the country."