Menendez seeks FBI probe of unauthorized immigrants working for Trump at his N.J. golf course

Menendez seeks FBI probe of unauthorized immigrants working for Trump at his N.J. golf course


By:  NJ.com

Did President Donald Trump’s company break any laws when it hired unauthorized immigrants to work at its Bedminster golf club?

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez wants to know.

Menendez asked Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate potential “serious crimes” at the golf facilities in Bedminster and Westchester County, N.Y.

The New Jersey Democrat made the request just days after meeting with four immigrants and their lawyer. The immigrants said they were given false papers allowing them to work at the golf clubs and were abused and threatened due to their status.

“The workers I met with describe a hostile environment where they were verbally abused and threatened,” Menendez wrote.

President Donald Trump's Bedminster golf club is accused of knowingly employing unauthorized immigrants even as he demanded a border wall to cut down on immigration.

The Trump Organization has been firing unauthorized immigrants at its golf clubs and has said it is adopting a new system to ensure that future employees legally are able to work.

In asking for the investigation, Menendez also requested that the immigrants be allowed to remain in the U.S. for now.

“Because the individuals I met with and others that may step forward appear to be potential witnesses to a crime and may provide the evidence necessary to conduct an appropriate investigation, I urge you to consider requesting or supporting authorization for them to remain in the U.S. during your necessary investigation,” Menendez wrote.

Did President Donald Trump’s company break any laws when it hired unauthorized immigrants to work at its Bedminster golf club?

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez wants to know.

Menendez asked Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate potential “serious crimes” at the golf facilities in Bedminster and Westchester County, N.Y.

The New Jersey Democrat made the request just days after meeting with four immigrants and their lawyer. The immigrants said they were given false papers allowing them to work at the golf clubs and were abused and threatened due to their status.

“The workers I met with describe a hostile environment where they were verbally abused and threatened,” Menendez wrote.

Unauthorized immigrants who worked at Trump’s N.J. golf club tell D.C. lawmakers they were mistreated, now fear deportation

Unauthorized immigrants who worked at Trump’s N.J. golf club tell D.C. lawmakers they were mistreated, now fear deportation

President Donald Trump's Bedminster golf club is accused of knowingly employing unauthorized immigrants even as he demanded a border wall to cut down on immigration.

The Trump Organization has been firing unauthorized immigrants at its golf clubs and has said it is adopting a new system to ensure that future employees legally are able to work.

In asking for the investigation, Menendez also requested that the immigrants be allowed to remain in the U.S. for now.

“Because the individuals I met with and others that may step forward appear to be potential witnesses to a crime and may provide the evidence necessary to conduct an appropriate investigation, I urge you to consider requesting or supporting authorization for them to remain in the U.S. during your necessary investigation,” Menendez wrote.

Two of the immigrants at the meeting, both of whom worked at Bedminster, were guests at Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Victorina Morales, who is an unauthorized immigrant, was invited by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12th Dist.) Sandra Diaz, who now has legal status but was unauthorized when she worked for Trump, was invited by of Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

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The State of the Union is full of it | Sheneman cartoon

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Our president is currently enjoying historically low approval ratings. Depending on the poll you read it's somewhere around 35 percent. That's very, very bad, yet every time I see that number it makes me wonder why it's so high.

Against all odds our large, surly commander in chief has managed to hold on to most of his base. I'm unclear what they're sticking around for - besides owning the libs - because they're not getting their big, racist wall and, as many folks who are filling out this years tax returns are discovering, they're not getting a bigger tax refund.

In all seriousness, what does this man offer the people who voted for him. Is it just the judges? If so, you got hosed. Were tariffs, higher taxes and the loss of the nation's dignity worth Brett Kavanaugh?

I repeatedly see MAGA enthusiasts say that they love that he tells it like it is and fights back against the liberals and the mainstream media. That seems like a really bad reason to elect a president. 

On Tuesday evening, the president addressed the nation with a State of the Union address that can politely be described as 82 minutes long. He paid lip service to unity and bipartisanship but when he read those words off the prompter you could tell he was thinking about golf.

He doesn't want unity or bipartisanship. That 30 percent to 35 percent of voters who love the man don't want unity and bipartisanship. They want racist dog whistles and chest thumping talk of giant concrete border walls, or steel slats or whatever.

That whole nonsense about unity was just to mollify the Washington pundit class for an evening. The president will be race baiting in front of a MAGA rally in no time. 

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It’s called a ‘rain tax.’ But will it really it help N.J. fight floods and stop pollution?

Hoboken sanitation workers clear storm drains on Willows St as Hurricane Irene hits New Jersey on August 28, 2011. (John Munson | For The Star-Ledger)(mwarren@njadvancemedia.com)
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It happens every time it rains.

Water washes off streets and parking lots, ending up in streams, rivers and lakes. And that runoff carries everything from leaked motor oil and road salt to dog poop, polluting waterways throughout New Jersey.

Last week, a bill aimed at managing stormwaters, and its pollution threat, was passed by state lawmakers. It now awaits Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.

But opponents of the bill have slammed the measure as an unnecessary “rain tax” that will cost New Jerseyans more than its worth.

If signed into law, the bill, which is known as the Clean Stormwater and Flood Reduction Act but officially labeled A2694/S1073, would allow counties and municipalities to create stormwater management utilities dedicated to reducing flood risk and cutting back on the amount of pollution that washes into Garden State waterways.

The utilities would be funded by fees assessed to property owners based on the amount of impervious surfaces (like roads, roofs and parking lots) they have on their property.

The bill, which was championed by state Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex,) was passed by the state Assembly with a 45-31 vote on Jan. 31. Later that day, the Senate passed the final version of the bill on a 25-11 vote.

Republicans in Trenton strongly opposed the bill, framing the measure as a “rain tax” that would place unfair financial burdens on property-owners.

“The last thing this state needs is more debt and another runaway tax. Especially one that taxes the weather,” Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips (R-Bergen) said before the final Assembly vote.

DePhillips stresses that his primary concern is economic and that he’d like to have had a debate to find alternative solutions to the environmental problems faced by stormwater runoff. He added that he would have preferred a system of tax credits for businesses that act on their own to manage stormwater on their properties.

The passage of the bill was praised by environmental groups, who have pushed for legislation on this issue for years.

“The biggest source of pollution we face is from stormwater runoff," said Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This legislation is an important step forward to help clean up our waterways and protect us from flooding.”

According to Jersey Water Works, which is a group dedicated to the improvement of the state’s water systems, New Jersey’s existing stormwater management infrastructure is unable to handle the amount of rain brought on by increasingly frequent severe storms. Because of this, the group says, New Jersey is more at risk of flooding than ever before.

“Handling stormwater is a complex problem. It requires a multifaceted solution,” said Jane Kenny, a co-chair of Jersey Water Works. “Recognizing the importance of maintaining stormwater infrastructure, and providing the funding to do so, is necessary to prevent flooding from taking an even bigger toll on New Jersey families and businesses. Stormwater utilities are one key way to accomplish this”

Stormwater poses an even larger problem in communities that rely on combined sewer systems, outdated infrastructure that channels stormwater and sewage into the same wastewater system. During heavy rain storms these combined systems can overflow, resulting in a spill of raw or partially treated sewage.

More syringes are washing up on Jersey beaches. It's a problem that starts miles away.

More syringes are washing up on Jersey beaches. It's a problem that starts miles away.

State officials and environmentalists are blaming old sewer systems in North Jersey and New York for needles and other trash that closed 13 Shore beaches in July.

New Jersey would not be breaking new ground nationally with this bill. More than 40 states and the District of Columbia operate stormwater utilities.

Assemblyman Hal Wirths (R-Sussex) connected the stormwater proposal to the recently signed $15 minimum wage law. Wirths said in that this is just the latest in a series of tax increases proposed by Democratic state lawmakers, and he believes that these proposals are driving up the cost of living

“I don’t know if a snow tax is coming next year and I’m not being sarcastic,” Wirths said. “This is just another tax, a rain tax on the people of New Jersey and I urge my colleagues to vote no on this because it is just never-ending down here.”

This story has been updated to reflect that the bill passed Assembly on a 45-31 vote, rather than a 49-27 vote.

Michael Sol Warren may be reached at mwarren@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MSolDub. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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This is who Democrats prefer for president. Is it Cory Booker?

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WASHINGTON — Plenty of Democrats say they would support U.S. Sen. Cory Booker for president, but more of them would rather see former Vice President Joe Biden or three other senators, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Almost half of Democrats or those who lean Democratic in a CNN poll, 49 percent, said they would back Booker, D-N.J., who entered the presidential contest on Friday. One-third, 33 percent, indicated they were unlikely to support him.

That placed Booker fifth, behind Biden at 77 percent; Bernie Sanders of Vermont, 64 percent; Kamala Harris of California, 63 percent; and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, 61 percent.

It’s official! N.J. Sen. Cory Booker says he’s running for president in 2020

It’s official! N.J. Sen. Cory Booker says he’s running for president in 2020

The former Newark mayor joins a growing field of Democrats vying for the nomination.

The poll was released as Booker prepared to make his first forays as a presidential candidate, heading to Iowa and South Carolina this weekend. He visited both early-voting states last fall when he campaigned for Democrats running in the midterm elections.

Two other senators, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, had less support than Booker in the CNN poll. So did former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a former Republican who was the only candidate on the list opposed by a majority of Democrats.

Democrats said their top priority was nominating someone who could beat President Donald Trump, with 87 percent expressing that view.

The poll of 477 adults who identified as Democratic or leaned toward the party was conducted Jan. 30-Feb. 2 with a margin of error of 5.6 percentage points.

Jonathan D. Salant may be reached at jsalant@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JDSalant or on Facebook. Find NJ.com Politics on Facebook.

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Phil Murphy got surprised with this question during telephone town hall

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It’s the unanswered question that’s been asked dozens of times over the past couple months and probably the last one Gov. Phil Murphywanted to get asked Wednesday night during a telephone town hall he used to promote a new $15 minimum wage bill he just signed into law.

But the man identified as Anthony pulled one over the people screening the calls and went there.

“Who hired Al Alvarez?” Anthony, the second-to-last caller on the hour-long event asked the governor, referring to the former top aide who Murphy staffer Katie Brennan says raped her during the governor’s election campaign in 2017.

“Not the question that you said you were going to ask, obviously,” Murphy responded.

“Here’s what I’ll say to that,” the Democratic governor continued. “I put out a statement today about a report that came (from) an investigation into this whole matter … and I would encourage you to read that. I’m also going to speak with the press (Thursday).”

Who hired ex-Murphy aide accused of rape?

Who hired ex-Murphy aide accused of rape?

Lawmakers are shocked how no one in Gov. Phil Murphy's orbit can say who hired the man Katie Brennan accused of rape.

He was referring to the taxpayer-funded report by former state Supreme Court Justice Peter Verniero that Murphy commissioned, which concluded members of his inner circle made some mistakes but acted in good faith and that ultimately "the system” failed Brennan.

Still, missing from the report released after Verniero’s four-month investigation is the answer to the basic question that has vexed lawmakers and Murphy has refused to comment on when asked by New Jersey’s reporters: Who hired Alvarez?

Anthony asked. But Murphy had no answer to give.

“I’m all in on all of it,” the governor said, referring to Verniero’s recommendation that the state expand and clarify state equal employment opportunity rules and model gubernatorial transitions after presidential transitions, wherein candidates begin assembling their administrations before the general election.

“I think these steps we need to take collectively and we will take them collectively, and we will have learned a lot of lessons,” Murphy said. “I’m gonna speak more.”

Earlier in the day, Murphy conceded in a statement that his aides should have told him sooner about Brennan’s allegation. He also said his administration should have more “swiftly and decisively” removed Alvarez.

Alvarez has denied the allegations, saying the incident was consensual, and two county prosecutors’ offices have declined to charge him with a crime.

But Murphy said his staff should have done more.

“I fully respect the determinations made by two separate law enforcement entities regarding Mr. Alvarez, but once the decision was made to separate him from state government, it should have had been handled more swiftly and decisively,” Murphy said.

State lawmakers investigating the administration and its hiring practices, however, signaled Verniero’s report will not put an end to its inquiry into the matter.

State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, who co-chairs the committee, eviscerated the content of the report because she said it fails to answer key questions or hold anyone accountable.

NJ Advance Media staff writers Susan K. Livio and Samantha Marcuscontributed to this report.

Matt Arco may be reached at marco@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewArco or Facebook.

Brent Johnson may be reached at bjohnson@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01.

Tired of robocalls? This Jersey Democrat wants to force them to hang up.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. speaks at a rally in Newark in support of the Affordable Care Act. (Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com) (jsalant@njadvancemedia.com)
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WASHINGTON — If your phone rings, too often there’s a robocaller on the other end of the line, right?

Even if you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call registry.

Now a New Jersey lawmaker wants to stop these robocallers from bothering you.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, has introduced legislation to give the Federal Communications Commission new tools to address unauthorized calls, which by one estimate numbered more than 26 billion last year.

“It is incredibly annoying to repeatedly get unwanted calls from people you don’t know and don’t want to talk to,” said Pallone, D-6th Dist.

N.J.’s Pallone gets the power to lead the fight for Obamacare and against drilling off the Jersey Shore

N.J.’s Pallone gets the power to lead the fight for Obamacare and against drilling off the Jersey Shore

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. was elected chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Besides being annoying, robocalls also are used to rip off unsuspecting consumers, Pallone said such scams cost 22 million Americans some $9.5 billion in 2016.

Pallone’s Stopping Bad Robocalls Act would ensure the FCC has the power its needs to go after robocallers, require callers' phone number to be verified before the call goes through to go, and give the government four years rather than one to go after bad actors.

The head of the trade association that represents call centers and similar businesses said the legislation won’t solve the problem because the companies acting illegally are not going to change their practices.

“None of this is going to stop illegal robocalls,” said Stuart Discount, chief executive of the Professional Association for Customer Engagement. "I get five or six on my phone every single day. If this goes into effect, not one of those calls is going to be stopped. Unfortunately, this will only put an burden on an industry that is following all the rules.”