Nadine Arslanian, the wife of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, is under investigation over allegations she received gifts from people in exchange for favors from her powerful husband, the Daily Wire report. The pair have been married since 2020.
The U.S. Southern District of New York issued subpoenas for people close to Arslanian and Menendez. However, there's no indication at this time that they're focused on anyone but the senator.
The probe of Menendez goes back to 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. Arslanian's associate Wael Hana, founder of G Halal out of Edgewater, N.J., was subject to a search warrant that year of both his home and office.
Notably, Hana was awarded a contract to become the sole certified exporter of halal meat to Egypt. The government is investigating possible foreign lobbying.
Lawrence Lustberg, Hana's attorney, said his client is innocent. "Once he has the opportunity to do so, and the truth comes out, he is confident that the government will recognize that he has done absolutely nothing wrong, including that IS EG was awarded its Halal certification contract with Egypt without any assistance whatsoever from any U.S. public official."
Hana is connected to the senator's wife through another one of his attorneys, Antranig Aslanian. Aslanian claims he was subpoenaed because he has casually known Arslanian, who shares his Armenian heritage, for 25 years.
"If she was somewhere and I saw her, I'd say, 'Hey, would you like a drink?'" Aslanian said. "I said to the U.S. attorney, 'Is there something wrong with that? If I saw you out, I'd offer you a drink,'" he claimed.
Regardless of the nature or closeness of their relationship, it's relevant that Arslanian not just a senator's wife but also is a sophisticated woman apart from her powerful husband. As a student at New York University, she studied international politics and is a self-described businesswoman.
If Hana's good fortune indeed involved a favor from Menendez, it wouldn't be the first time the senator was embroiled in a corruption scandal. Prosecutors in a 2015 investigation alleged that Menendez accepted nearly $1 million in gifts from an ophthalmologist in Florida.
The gifts included vacations and the use of a private jet, allegedly in exchange for help with billing disputes between the doctor and Medicare, as well as settling an entanglement over a port located in the Dominican Republic. However, Menendez was not convicted of those crimes.
A judge declared a mistrial in Menendez's 2017 trial because of a hung jury. Rather than retry the senator, the judge cited certain charges on which Menendez was acquitted as reason enough to let him walk.
All parties are innocent until proven guilty. However, corruption in the Garden State is nothing new.