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Menendez’s controversial donor stood to benefit from green-energy bill Menendez sponsored

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

Natural Gas baron T. Boone Pickens has spent a few years making a pretty naked play for subsidies for natural-gas cars. But Pickens isn’t the only natural gas guy using a line into Congress to push for natgas-powered cars.

Salomon Mengen, the wealthy Democratic donor cozy with embattled Sen. Bob Menendez (who was chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and thus the top fundraiser for Senate Democrats), liked the Natgas-car subsidies. Menendez, notably, was a lead sponsor the bill to create those subsidies.

Here’s the key part of the AP story on the matter:

Dr. Salomon Melgen invested in Gaseous Fuel Systems Corp. of Weston, Fla., and joined its board of directors in early 2010, according to the company’s chief executive and a former company consultant.GFS, as the company is known, designs, manufactures and sells products to convert diesel-fuel fleets to natural gas. The amount of Melgen’s investment is confidential under rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission, but a 2009 document filed with the SEC showed the company required a minimum individual investment at that time of $51,500.

At the same time, Menendez emerged as a principal supporter of a natural gas bill that would boost tax credits and grants to truck and heavy vehicle fleets that converted to alternative fuels. The bill stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, and after it was revived in 2012, the NAT GAS Act failed to win the needed 60 votes to pass.

While the bill was under consideration between 2009 and 2011, the former consultant for GFS spent $220,000 lobbying Menendez’s staff and other congressional and federal officials on the act’s provisions as well as other regulatory issues, according to interviews and Senate records.

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