The Daily Beast: When Helping a Friend Is a Crime


Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said the most interesting part of the indictment has to do with Melgen’s $600,000 donation to Menendez, funneled through a super PAC run by former and current aides to Harry Reid, the intention of which was to maintain the Senate majority for Democrats.

“It shows how misguided the Supreme Court, inCitizens United, was when it declared that independent spending can’t or doesn’t pose any threat of corruption,” he said. “In fact, we see now, a very direct instance of corruption flowing from contributions made to an independent expenditure group.”

“I think this was all very predictable,” Ryan went on. “The court was completely out of touch with how politics works and this Menendez indictment reflects precisely how politics does work and influence-seekers are going to be exerting their corrupting influence through super PACs just as they used to do it through political parties and soft money. Super PACs provide the same exact types of threats and avenues for corruption.

“The court was wrong and now we have, at least, the first bit of alleged evidence about how wrong the court was in Citizens United.”

Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Elections Commission, agreed. On the Acela from Washington to New York City on Thursday afternoon, Potter told me that “the reality” is “that of course, candidates and officeholders are in the middle of the super PAC world.” He said it was a predictable outcome, although “the court claimed it wasn’t going to happen.” ...

“It’s possible that [Melgen] did that without anyone talking to the Menendez world,” Potter said, an eyebrow raised skeptically. ...

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