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By Bill Wichert June 14, 2012

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos slams incumbent Robert Menendez over Wall Street donations

When it comes to raising money from Wall Street, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos recently offered a clear distinction between him and Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez.

Menendez is the "king" of such donations, while Kyrillos has received nothing of the sort, he said.

"The guys in Washington – including my opponent, Senator Menendez – they govern by press release, and so, it’s laughable to talk about the Wall Street thing, because he’s the king of raising money from Wall Street, over a million dollars, one of the leaders in the United States Senate," Kyrillos, a state senator, said in a June 6 interview on NJToday. "I haven’t raised any Wall Street money at all."

PolitiFact New Jersey discovered that Kyrillos needs to check his own campaign account.

He’s right about Menendez being one of the leading recipients in the U.S. Senate of donations from the Securities & Investment industry, if not exactly the "king." But Kyrillos is wrong to say he hasn’t received any such donations, when records show he has collected nearly $60,000 for his current campaign.

To analyze Kyrillos’ claim, we researched data available on OpenSecrets.org, a nonpartisan website tracking political donations. The website is managed by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics.

The latest data on the Securities & Investment industry includes figures released by the Federal Election Commission on June 4 -- two days before Kyrillos’ interview. The donations tallied on the website represent contributions of $200 or more from employees and political action committees within the industry.

According to that data, Menendez has received nearly $1.4 million from the industry between 1989 and 2012. Menendez served as a congressman for 13 years before joining the Senate in 2006.

That amount puts Menendez in 15th place among the nation’s 100 Senators for such donations, according to data on OpenSecrets.org. The 14 Senators with greater donations than Menendez include six Democrats, seven Republicans and one Independent.

The leading recipient is former presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), who has received about $11.2 million from the Securities & Investment industry.

In a statement, Menendez’s campaign manager, Michael Soliman, pointed to the senator’s "long-standing record of championing common sense reforms that have sided with consumers over banks."

"This silly partisan gotcha attack is absurd - by Joe Kyrlllos’s own standard John McCain, Mark Kirk, Scott Brown and Mitch McConnell - four Republican senator's - are the real Kings of Raising Money from Wall Street," Soliman added, referring to other senators who have raised more money from the industry than Menendez.

As for Kyrillos, he has received his share of such donations as well.

According to OpenSecrets.org, Kyrillos has received nearly $60,000 from the Securities & Investment industry for his current campaign.

Chapin Fay, Kyrillos’ campaign manager, responded to our findings in a statement: "You seem to be on a search to find anyway to find our statements not accurate and are missing the main point Senator Kyrillos made—Bob Menendez was cited as a top recipient of Wall Street money and Joe Kyrillos was not."

Our ruling

As the battle heats up for a U.S. Senate seat, Kyrillos claimed Menendez is "the king of raising money from Wall Street, over a million dollars, one of the leaders in the United States Senate. I haven’t raised any Wall Street money at all."

Data on OpenSecrets.org shows that Menendez has received nearly $1.4 million from the Securities & Investment industry, putting him in 15th place among sitting Senators for such donations. That ranking means Menendez is one of the leading recipients, but it’s an exaggeration to call him "the king of raising money from Wall Street."

Also, Kyrillos is wrong about his own fundraising, because he’s received nearly $60,000 from the industry for his current campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

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To comment on this ruling, go to NJ.com.

Our Sources

NJToday, Kyrillos Says He Will Beat Menendez in November, June 6, 2012

The Star-Ledger, Sen. Menendez casts primary vote, says N.J. voters will have clear choice in his November bid, June 5, 2012

The Star-Ledger, After winning GOP U.S. Senate nomination, Kyrillos announces statewide job tour, June 6, 2012

E-mail interview with Meaghan Cronin, spokeswoman for state Sen. Joe Kyrillos, June 7 and 12-13, 2012

PolitickerNJ.com, New Jersey lawmakers among largest beneficiaries of Wall Street cash, Feb. 9, 2012

OpenSecrets.org, Securities & Investment: Money to Congress, accessed June 7-13, 2012

OpenSecrets.org, Top Industries: Senator Robert Menendez, accessed June 7-13, 2012

OpenSecrets.org, Summary: Robert Menendez, accessed June 7-13, 2012

OpenSecrets.org, Top Industries, 2012 Race: New Jersey Senate, accessed June 13, 2012

E-mail interview with Viveca Novak, spokeswoman for The Center for Responsive Politics, June 8 and 12-13, 2012

E-mail interview with Melissa Castro, press secretary for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s campaign, June 11, 2012

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GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Kyrillos slams incumbent Robert Menendez over Wall Street donations

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