WASHINGTON - Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) raised $430,900 for his legal expense trust fund in the first three months of 2015, he reported Wednesday.
Menendez spent $107,500 from the fund, most of it in a $100,000 payment to the law firm McDermott, Will & Emery, home to one of his top defense lawyers. An additional $7,500 was spent on a fund-raising consultant, the report shows.
Menendez has spent nearly $1.4 million on his legal defense since 2013, according to public filings. That includes payments from both his campaign account and the legal expense fund.
The senator was charged this month with 14 counts of corruption, accused of using his office to pressure federal officials to help a friend in exchange for lavish gifts. He was under investigation for at least two years. Menendez has denied the accusations and vowed he will be vindicated.
Menendez is one of the least wealthy senators, making cost an added challenge for his defense.
Donors to the trust fund can give up to $10,000 per year to help pay legal expenses related to Menendez's official work. In the first quarter of 2015, those who gave to the legal fund largely included frequent, top-dollar donors to Menendez and other Democrats.
Menendez also got support from New Jersey's former top law enforcer. Former Attorney General Zulima Farber gave the fund $1,000. Menendez's political leadership committee, the New Millennium PAC, contributed the maximum $10,000. - Jonathan Tamari