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Menendez ethical questions raised

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Sen. Robert Menendez urged federal regulators to OK the acquisition of a failed bank whose officers included contributors to his campaigns, a published report says.

The Wall Street Journal quotes from a letter in which Menendez asks the Federal Reserve to approve the sale of First BankAmericano to JJR Bank Holding Co. of Brick. BankAmericano’s chairman was attorney Joseph Ginarte, who has contributed $30,000 to Menendez since 1999. The bank’s vice chairman was state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a fellow Democrat from Union.

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez

Menendez, the Union Hill, St. Peter’s College and Rutgers graduate, characterizes the request as a mistake.

His purpose, he said, was to support an Elizabeth-based community bank that mostly served Hispanics.

It was four years ago this month that Menendez ignited another firestorm after opponents showed that he rented property significantly below market value to North Hudson Community Action Corp., a nonprofit agency that they said he helped receive federal funds.

Federal prosecutors investigated the deal, subpoenaing records, but never revealed the outcome.

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