Menendez Petitioned for Donor’s Bank

When Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey prodded the Federal Reserve last summer to approve an acquisition to save First BankAmericano he left out a key detail: the company’s chairman and vice chairman were two of his campaign’s biggest donors. Menendez’s request to approve the sale of the bank to JJR Bank Holding Co. shortly before its failure at the end of July was unusually specific (an aide later called it a mistake) and former federal bank regulator William Black called the senator’s actions “grotesquely inappropriate,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Menendez, who is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and currently oversees the Democrats’ Senate re-election campaigns, defended the letter, saying, “If any New Jersey Constituent comes to me seeking assistance with a legitimate federal matter, not only is it important to help, I was elected to help. Telling them ‘no’ would be abdicating my responsibility.”