The Post’s George Bennett reports that Republicans have slammed Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, for appearing in a testimonial video for the House Majority PAC that helped him upset tea party hero Allen West.
Thanking a benefactor PAC, the GOP claims, is hypocritical because Rep. Murphy has criticized super PACs and the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that cleared the way for huge donations.
We see the point. Lots of politicians decry money, but few decline money.
However, if a politician is going to express gratitude, a simple, public “thank you” is the way to go. Think of it as a welcome form of disclosure.
It’s a more transparent approach than the one taken by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who is being pressured to give up his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee because of allegations that he secretly and improperly has attempted to help Salomon Melgen. The Palm Beach County eye doctor has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates — most of them Democrats — and tens of thousands of dollars specifically to benefit Sen. Menendez. Melgen family members gave more than $33,000 to Sen. Menendez’s 2012 reelection campaign. The New York Times reports that a Democratic super PAC to which Dr. Melgen has contributed $700,000 funneled more than $580,000 to the Menendez campaign.
Sen. Menendez contacted administration health officials about their disputes with Dr. Melgen over $8.9 million in Medicare billings. He pressured Homeland Security officials not to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic. Such a donation by the U.S. would have undermined attempts by a Melgen-owned company to provide security under a contract worth up to $500 million.
Federal officials last month raided Dr. Melgen’s West Palm Beach office and took away records. He has not been charged with any crime and denies any wrongdoing. Sen. Menendez denies allegations that he had sex with underage prostitutes during trips to the Dominican Republic. He recently reimbursed Dr. Melgen more than $50,000 for trips to the Dominican Republic aboard the doctor’s private plane, calling the failure to pay earlier an oversight.
Whether charges will be filed or allegations of ethical breaches will be sustained is unknown. But it’s certain that the developing scandal would not have reached this point if Sen. Menendez had confined himself to a simple “thank you.”
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
for The Post Editorial Board