NJ Politics Digest: Prosecutors Tie Donations to Menendez Meeting

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez Alyana Alfaro for Observer

Sen. Bob Menendez met with a State Department official to discuss port security issues troubling his top donor, Salomon Melgen, just days after Melgen gave $60,000 to help the senator’s re-election bid and fight a recall effort against him, prosecutors said Thursday, according to reports.

Prosecutors tried to tie donations to actions Menendez allegedly took to advance Melgen’s interests. Witnesses who testified Thursday described Menendez’s efforts to help Melgen as “unusual” and “odd.” Hours later, Menendez hopped on a flight to head to Puerto Rico to assess the damage after Hurricane Marie ravaged the island.

Phil Murphy, the Democratic nominee for governor, didn’t say whether he supports a plan to offer up to $5 billion in tax breaks to Amazon if the company brings its second headquarters to New Jersey. He also remained undecided on extending a 2 percent cap on yearly salary hikes for police and firefighters, even though a report released Thursday said the cap helped slow the rise of property taxes.

Quote of the Day: “I don’t know what the president knows or doesn’t know, other than that it’s a big ocean and there’s an island in the ocean. — Sen. Bob Menendez on President Trump’s knowledge of Puerto Rico.

Murphy Declines to Take Position on Police, Fire Salary Cap
Phil Murphy, the Democratic nominee for governor, remained undecided on extending a 2 percent cap on yearly salary hikes negotiated in arbitration for police and firefighters, even after a report he said he was waiting for was released Thursday showing the law helped slow the rise of property taxes in New Jersey.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Murphy Says Amazon Deal Shouldn’t Hinge on Tax Breaks
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy on Thursday did not say whether he supports a bipartisan deal reached by Gov. Chris Christie and leading lawmakers to offer up to $5 billion in tax incentives to Amazon if the company chooses New Jersey as the site of its new corporate headquarters.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Menendez Heads To Puerto Rico to Survey Storm Damage
Sen. Bob Menendez said the White House tried to stop him from going to Puerto Rico, but he’s going anyway. Hours after another day in court in his ongoing corruption trial, Menendez hopped on a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport to head to Puerto Rico, which was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He’s planning to tour the island with Gov. Ricardo Rossello and assess the damage and recovery efforts.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Menendez trial: Prosecutors probe timing of gifts
Prosecutors at U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial started to bring their bribery allegations full circle Thursday by trying to link the timing of certain favors performed by the senator to gifts and political contributions he received from his co-defendant Salomon Melgen.
The Record Read more

Democrats question NJEA’s crusade against Sweeney
The New Jersey Education Association’s scorched-earth strategy targeting Stephen Sweeney and some of his fellow Senate Democrats has left the state’s political establishment — and some of the union’s own members — wondering what, exactly, the union is trying to achieve.
Politico Read more

5 things Phil Murphy said about taxes, NJEA, Trump and more at NJ.com town hall
With about six weeks until New Jerseyans pick a new governor to succeed Chris Christie, Democratic nominee Phil Murphy sat down for an hour-long town hall Wednesday night. Murphy fielded questions from Tom Moran, Matt Arco and audience members at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
NJ.com Read more

The latest tally: How much you’ve given N.J. governor candidates
Democratic nominee Phil Murphy has now collected more than $5.5 million in public matching funds in the race to succeed Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor — five times more than Republican opponent Kim Guadagno, according to the state’s election watchdog agency.
NJ.com Read more

Melania Trump joins Christie in opioid fight
Melania Trump joined Gov. Chris Christie and top officials of the Trump administration at the White House on Thursday to discuss opioid addiction and said she plans to play a larger role in fighting the deadly epidemic.
The Record Read more

Trump administration picks new EPA chief for New Jersey and New York
A New York lawmaker was tapped Thursday by the Trump administration to lead the important U.S. Environmental Protection Agency office that oversees New Jersey’s leading-the-nation 114 Superfund sites.
The Record Read more

Democrats want Trump to require sleep apnea testing
Democratic lawmakers from New York and New Jersey are introducing legislation to force federal transportation officials to implement a rule to test train engineers for sleep apnea.
Associated Press Read more

Sandy excluded as Congress approves special disaster tax relief for Harvey, Irma, Maria
The House and Senate approved cutting some taxes for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria on Thursday over the objections of House Democrats, who said Superstorm Sandy victims did not get the same treatment.
The Record Read more

100th person charged with Sandy fraud as N.J. hits ‘sad milestone’
Four people were charged Wednesday with fraudulently benefiting from relief programs for victims of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, bringing the total number of those charged to 100, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
NJ.com Read more

New idea to replace Port Authority bus terminal gains steam
Port Authority officials plan to research the idea of rebuilding its aging Midtown Manhattan bus terminal by building on top of the current structure like a layer cake.
NJ.com Read more

Obama, Bush, Clinton center of attention at Presidents Cup Opening Ceremony in Jersey City
The three former Presidents arrived together shortly before 12:30 p.m. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ascended the steps leading up to a platform adjacent to the first tee at Liberty National Golf Club Thursday afternoon, drawing cheers and a few chants of “USA! USA!” from the packed stands.
The Record Read more

Climate Change in NJ? It’s Already Here
Climate change is happening in New Jersey, and some of its impacts are already occurring: warmer summers, more days of extreme rainfalls, and increased frequency and intensity of floods due to rising sea levels.
NJSpotlight Read more

Editorial: Time for Murphy to support arbitration cap
Democrats are calling Republicans’ early release of a long-awaited report on the effects of the state’s 2 percent cap on interest arbitration a political stunt. Well, the timing has political ramifications, and the four Democrats on the panel did not vote with the panel’s four Republicans to release the report in its current form, but timing matters to voters.
The Record Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Prosecutors Tie Donations to Menendez Meeting