Saturday, September 30, 2006

More Problems for Menendez -- Tapes!

Ray Rivera, "Tape About Hiring Puts Menendez Camp on the Defensive," The New York Times, September 29, 2006, at p. B3:

"Senator Menendez, who is being challenged by State Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr. in a fierce race for his Senate seat, is on the defensive again, over a tape-recorded conversation in which a longtime friend and political confidant is overhead asking a psychiatrist with $1 MILLION in Hudson County contracts to hire one of Mr. Menendez's political patrons [Dr. Vicente Ruiz] or risk losing the contracts."

"A Menendez campaign spokesperson" -- who is an attorney, perhaps, and duty-bound to speak the truth? -- "denied that the senator had any involvement in exerting any influence on the psychiatrist. He moved quickly to disassociate the campaign from the man accused of applying the pressure, [New Jersey Attorney] Donald J. Scarinci, after excerpts of the conversation, which took place in 1999, appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer [by way of the Camden Democratic Machine?] and other newspapers yesterday."

Mr. Scarinci is long known to be close to the Hudson County power-structure, from which he derives a great deal of business, and to Mr. Menendez, since he is (allegedly) a friend of the Senator "from the old neighborhood," as the saying goes. Another Hudson County saying is: "You take care of me, I take care of you."

"In an interview yesterday, Dr. Sandoval" -- hereafter known as "the cautious shrink" -- "said that the tape was ONE OF DOZENS OF CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN HIMSELF AND MR. SCARINCI THAT HE SECRETLY RECORDED, AND THAT MR. MENENDEZ WAS PRESENT on several occasions when the issue was being discussed. Dr. Sandoval declined to release any other tapes yesterday."

There is more coming boys and girls.

" ... 'It's an insult to the intelligence of the New Jersey public to ask them to believe that Scarinci, who has millions of dollars in business in more than 20 municipalities because of Bob Menendez's influence, did this without Menendez's involvement,' Dr. Sandoval said."

At one point in the transcript of only one recording "Mr. Scarinci is quoted as saying that from his point of view, 'it makes sense for you, because this gives you protection.' ..."

An old friend of the Hudson County "dominations and powers," Dr. Ruiz -- the recipient of this mysterious largesse -- may well have shared some of his bounty. It is too soon, at this point, to know such a thing, but it is certainly a plausible speculation. One wonders with whom Dr. Ruiz might have shared his bounty, if he did share it, better than with those who helped him to get that bounty in the first place. And I don't mean paper towels. I was told that in Jersey politics, "one hand washes the other." For some reason, however, the hands are always filthy.

Is there a pattern here? $30 MILLION in federal money for the Bayonne waterfront project and lucrative employment for Bob's friends, including Scarinsci and Li Causi, all of whom happen to be campaign contributors; $300,000 in rent for Bob, just as Bob's tenants get millions in federal funds. What a coincidence!

"A 1998 form submitted to the Internal Revenue Service showed that Dr. Ruiz was one of the highest paid employees of the North Hudson Community Action Corporation -- the non-profit agency that leased property from Menendez -- earning $125,192. Dr. Ruiz remained an employee of the agency until he resigned in January 2000, an agency spokesman said yesterday."

How much of that money paid to Ruiz was coming back to Senator Bob, one way or the other? Inquiring minds and grand juries want to know.

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