Embattled Sen. Bob Menendez benefited from pro-Egypt actions in more ways than one, campaign finance records and recent indictments in his federal corruption case show.
The updated criminal complaint filed by prosecutors last week describes a May 21, 2019, meeting between the New Jersey Democrat and several alleged co-conspirators — including his wife, Nadine Arslanian — with a member of Cairo’s military intelligence. This was one in a series of in-person and electronic interactions presented by the Justice Department as evidence that the then-chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his accused accomplices acted as agents for the Egyptian government in exchange for bribes.
But in this particular engagement, FBI agents allege that Menendez, his associates and his Egyptian contact discussed the Trump administration’s opposition $1 billion sale of Apache military helicopters to the Middle Eastern country, which some members of Congress, including then-Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT). At the heart of their objections was the authoritarian regime’s use of the same model helicopters four years earlier to attack a tour group it mistook for militants. This attack left several people dead and one American citizen injured.
In the days that followed, Menendez — whose leadership position on the Foreign Relations Committee gave him power to complete the sale — reportedly conducted inquiries into the victim, April Corley of California. Meanwhile, the Egyptian official reportedly promised accused co-conspirator Wael Hana via an encrypted messaging service that Menendez “will be very happy” if he resolves the helicopter package issue. According to the lawsuit, Hana wrote back “orders.” Consider it done,” and then forwarded further material from the Egyptian agent to the senator’s wife, who passed it on to her husband.
Menendez and Hana have denied the allegations, although the senator’s office did not respond to questions for this story. Corley also did not respond to emails or phone calls.
What is undeniable, however, is that Boeing – the maker of the Apache – made its first maximum political action committee contribution to Menendez’s New Millennium PAC just weeks after the meeting detailed in the indictment. The $5,000 donation far exceeded the aerospace company’s only previous donation to New Millennium: $1,000 in 2013, during the senator’s previous term as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The corporate PAC’s only contribution to any of Menendez’s political committees since that gift in 2013 was a similarly paltry $1,000 donated to his re-election in 2018. New Millennium is a leadership PAC, meaning it exists to allow Menendez to distribute money and influence among his colleagues.
Furthermore, Boeing’s generosity didn’t end there: in early August 2020, just over a month after, the New Millennium PAC again gave the maximum allowable amount of $5,000 The Foreign Ministry has moved To grant Egypt $2.3 billion for Apache upgrades, soon again at the end of December 2021 before contracts for the improvements began to diminish.
Boeing did not respond to repeated inquiries from The Daily Beast about its contacts with the senator, the Egyptian government or any of their representatives or agents.
Lobbying records for Boeing from 2019 do not mention Menendez, his committee, Egypt or the Apaches by name. But the documents show that the company has spent tens of thousands of dollars this year lobbying both houses of Congress to approve appropriations “for a variety of Boeing Company programs and activities,” including “rotorcraft.”