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Posted by Steven Glazer, Urban Times News on July 01, 2003 at 20:05:02:

Steven Glazer, email:
Urban Times News

Union City—Congressman Robert Menendez, D-13, has used the power and influence of his office to recommend a favored supplier of the Hudson County Democratic Organization. The supplier, Hindsight, had been higher than other bidders by as much a $1 Million for the same services to the County government. Menendez put the letter of recommendation on Congressional stationary using his own House of Representatives letterhead at about the same time the computer service firm was bidding on a County contract.

Principals of Hindsight have been frequent and generous campaign contributors to Menendez, former County Executive Robert Janiszewski and the Hudson County Democratic Organization. By Hudson County Freeholders’ rules that would make Menendez a lobbyist, as Assemblyman apparent Louis Manzo told Freeholders, “This is your own definition.” Manzo said that Menendez had not registered as a lobbyist as required by law putting the Congressman in violation of State and County laws.

Menendez started his political career in Union City during the scandal-tainted administration of former Mayor Bill Musto. The letter refers to the work the vendor did for Union City and its schools. Musto wound up convicted of corruption in a scheme that included Mafia contractors overbilling the school board in Union City where Menendez was in charge of issuing fraudulent payments to the contractors. Menendez personally signed every check issued in the scheme.

All those involved in the scheme were convicted except one of the contractors against whom the federal prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence, and Menendez. Menendez was unscathed by the prosecution, though intimately involved with Musto. Musto treated the young aspiring politician like a son even giving Menendez room and board in Musto’s own home at one point. Yet Menendez was never indicted for any part of the corrupt scheme, and went on to become Mayor of Union City.

As a former Mayor of Union City and now, a senior member of the House of Representatives, said to be the third ranking Democrat in Congress, such a recommendation from Menendez would seem highly influential anywhere in New Jersey and particularly in Hudson County or any of its towns where it was presented to induce business.

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