Senator Menendez – corruption charges and Hungarian friends

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez was indicted on federal corruption charges.

A 61-year-old Democrat, Mr. Menendez was charged with eight counts of bribery, conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements on government documents. He is the first senator to face federal bribery charges since another New Jersey Democrat, Harrison Williams was indicted in 1980, almost a quarter century ago. Menendez has refused to resign saying “I always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law…. I am not going anywhere.”

As the famous Bob Dylan song says: “In Jersey anything’s legal as long as you don’t get caught.”

The case focuses on the Senator’s friendship with Dr. Salomon Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye surgeon and political benefactor. Prosecutors say Dr. Melgen lavished the senator with gifts, and Mr. Menendez helped to change the Medicare reimbursement policy in a way that would make millions for the good doctor. Dr. Melgen has also been indicted. The Senator claims the Medicare debate was a legitimate policy discussion, not a personal favor, and the gifts he received from Dr. Melgen should be reviewed in the context of their long friendship.

According to the Washington Post, Senator Menendez is not shy at all. When he took a personal trip to Paris to spend a weekend with a woman with whom he had a personal relationship, he requested a hotel room from Mr. Melgen with a “king bed, work area with internet, limestone bath with soaking tub and enclosed rain shower”, not even mentioning a view.

Many of us were surprised to learn that the Senator is also a close friend of ex-Hungarian Ambassador to Washington, Mr. György Szapáry, and he maintains relationships with prominent Hungarian politicians. The Obama administration and several high ranking Democrats have voiced strong criticism of the Orbán Government’s authoritarian policies, but in the Senator the Hungarians found an understanding Democrat. He has never criticized Mr. Orbán.

Mr. Balázs Fürjes (right) Hungarian Government Commissioner, Eugene F. Megyesy, Jr., Hungarian-American lawyer and advisor of Mr. Orbán, Ambassador Szapáry and Senator Menendez (left wearing striped tie) at the Rubik’s exhibition.

Mr. Balázs Fürjes (right) Hungarian Government Commissioner, Eugene F. Megyesy, Jr., Hungarian-American lawyer and advisor of Mr. Orbán, Ambassador Szapáry and Senator Menendez (left wearing striped tie) at the Rubik’s exhibition.

In 2012 Hungary made a secret deal to extradite the Azeri axe murderer Ramil Safarov, who received a hero’s welcome in Baku. Patrick Ventrell, spokesman for the U.S. State Department, said that the US was “extremely troubled” by the case and would be seeking explanations from both Budapest and Baku.

Mr. Menendez issued a statement and placed the blame squarely on the president of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev. In a half-sentence he mentioned that he was “troubled by Hungary’s decision to extradite Safarov”, then he blasted the Azeris with full force: “the blatant disregard for justice is unacceptable and I condemn Aliyev’s actions in the strongest way possible.” He called on Aliyev to apologize and for the international community to demand Safarov’s return to Hungary to complete his life sentence. He added: “It is clear that the Azeri government cannot be counted on to adhere to its international or bilateral obligations with respect to this matter.” In other words; case was closed, he never blamed the Hungarians for the dirty deal.

In 2012 Ambassador Szapáry organized a lavish gala in Washington to commemorate the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. Menendez was the only prominent Democrat to participate by recording a video message. Again, not a hint of criticism, just praises for foreign minister Mr. Martonyi and Ambassador Szapáry. (Watch the video here.)

No American politician talks to Mr. Áder since the World Affairs wrote about his “fascist sympathies”. In April 2014 Menendez warmly greeted Hungarian President Mr. János Áder at a Liberty Science Center’s exhibit, entitled Beyond Rubik’s Cube, marking the 40th Anniversary of the puzzle. (The World Affairs article about Mr. Áder…)

Senator Menendez (sitting) listening Hungarian President Mr. János Áder.

Senator Menendez (sitting) listening Hungarian President Mr. János Áder.

Mr. Menendez has greatly helped to ease the diplomatic isolation of the Orbán government in Washington. Ambassador Szapáry proudly bragged about the Senator’s “beautiful video message” in the Hungarian daily, Magyar Nemzet. It is disturbing that Hungary’s best friend in Congress today is a Senator accused of corruption and trading political favors for gifts.

President Theodore Roosevelt once said: “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’.” Mr. Menendez says he is not guilty, but has “temporarily” resigned from his leadership position in the Senate.

And Hungarian corruption is not a figment of imagination. Last October the State Department has banned several Hungarian officials from entering the US, they suspect that they were engaged in or benefiting from corruption. The Hungarian Government denies the charges, just like Senator Menendez does.

György Lázár

9 Comments

  1. Andrew Ludanyi says:

    György Lázár is very consistent. I have not found any of his writings to attempt fairness toward Hungary. He is a very bitter person and hunts for any negative he can find about Hungary or Hungarians. He must have had a very unhappy childhood. I really do feel sorry for him. Don’t you think linking President Ader to fascism is a bit far fetched? It might be more accurate to rename The Hungarian Free Press, The Hungarian Jaded Press!

  2. András Gollner says:

    I don’t know who Andrew Ludanyi is, but his attempt to psychoanalyse György Lázár, the author of the above article is quite baffling. Why resort to voodoo psychiatry instead of dealing with the statements of the author ? Mendes is being investigated for corruption and has close ties with the Orbán government. True or false ? The Orbán government’s highest, most eminent leaders have documented ties to well known fascists and anti-semites Nazis. Shall I give you some examples ? Gladly. Orbán sent a commemorative wreath to the funeral of István Csurka, who spent much of his later years spewing hatred against the Jewish people, calling them bloodsuckers and vermin. The Orbán government has sent on more than one occassion emissaries to North America, like Ernő Raffay, who has published 3 books during the last couple of years, blaming Hungary’s WWI territorial losses on the Jews. Orbán’s right hand man László Kövér Attended Csurka’s funeral, as did the the Vice-President of the Hungarian Parliament Sándor Lezsák, who has also officiated in the unveiling of statues to the Father of Hungarian anti-semitism, Ottokár Prohászka, and to Miklós Horthy, who permitted the transportation of 600,000 Jews to Auschwitz. The President of the Hungarian Parliament, László Kövér, coordinated the rehabilitation and ceremonial reburial of a former prominent Arrow Cross member of Parliament, József Nyírő. Zsolt Bayer, who is a close friend of Mr Orbán, holds Party membership No 5 in Orbán’s Party and has been decorated by the Orbán government, is in print saying that the mere existence of Jewish journalists in Budapest is cause enough for anti-semitism. It is for these reasons, that Nobel Laurate Elie Wiesel returned his decorations to László Kövér, as did the worlds highest ranking authority on the Hungarian holocaust, Randolph Brabham. Mr György Lázár should be thanked for putting together a sober argument, that should be looked into more closely by US government investigators than dismissed outright as lunacy. If anyone is in need of psychoanalysis it is Ludányi.

  3. Judith Kopácsi says:

    Dear Mr. Ludányi. Knowing Mr. Lázár, I’m sure, given half the chance and reason, he would gladly write positive things about Hungary. It is too bad there are so few of them lately. Would you please inform the Hungarian politicians, that we are starving for some positive and good news about that country.

  4. Gyula Bognar, Jr. says:

    Dear Mr. Ludányi: Denying the facts and the truth will NOT make them change. The majority of Hungarians, who are remaining still in Hungary today are living in denial, parrot false history and never accept any responsibility for their dastardly deeds in WWI, between the two wars, in WWII, and ever since.
    Hungary has a non-functional society in the Western sense of the word, meaning politically active intelligent, progressive and liberal middle class.
    Hungary became a caricature of a nation and a circus, only outsiders can look at laughing, because living there, among other Hungarians is HELL, and you are one of those, who make it so.

  5. Ambassadors in the game? No surprise here. Orban is always playing a big game with the help of his ambassadors – whenever he can. He loves the idea to place his trading under diplomatic immunity. Bribe, corruption, money laundering, whatever. He pays extraordinary attention to his ambassadors, controls them, replaces them at any time if it is necessary, or just convenes them all for briefing before starting another dirty business.

  6. Andrew Ludanyi says:

    Gollner and associates I know very little about you but after your rantings and sweeping UNSUBSTANTIATED statements I’m really happy with this limited exposure. At present I’m in Budapest and enjoying every minute. Its great to be in a thriving capital that is popular with tourists, investors and scholars from all corners of the world. Unlike under Gyurcsány and Bajnai Hungary is a booming and pleasant, culturally vibrant place. You must be so bitter and hateful because you are not part of the action! But for you all I cannot feel sorry, because your misery is a consequence of sour grapes acquired in old age rather that inherited from an unhappy childhood.

    • Cut the shit you wacko!!! Stay there where you are, go vibrant and pay HFP for publishing your century old advertisements instead of posting them for free on the discussion board. It is not your privately owned online news site, don’t give me your political adds and other filth.

      Alternatively, in case you were an A.I. please signal to your operator to replace your substandard motherboard combo and reprogram your shoddy software.

    • It is so unfortunate that Hungarians like yourself want to do nothing to improve the country. It is much easier to defend, defend and defend the bad behaviour of your government back home than to stand up and make changes that are needed to improve the everyday lives of Hungarians in Hungary. It is similar to communist times when people were just happy believing that the Russians were their saviour and the USA wanted to kill Hungarians, because then they wouldn’t have to do anything to make their lives better. It seems instilled in Hungarian values to suck up to the government because that is what gives you individual results rather than do something that benefits everyone. Orban relies on this kind of stupidity that is heavily ingrained in Hungarian society, that is why he has been so successful in creating a following. Those who kiss ass get kickbacks right?

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