In the aftermath of the bribery charges filed against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his wife, Nadine, the political chattering class is abuzz with speculation. The lawmaker has been criticized by people on both sides of the political divide and has lost his position as the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York alleges that Menendez accepted numerous bribes over a four-year period from three businessmen in exchange for using his position of influence to benefit them. He is also accused of sharing “sensitive” information with the Egyptian government.
Menendez has vigorously denied the charges, claiming to be the target of a vicious smear campaign. He released a statement chiming in on the indictment.
For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.
The excesses of these prosecutors is apparent. They have misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office. On top of that, not content with making false claims against me, they have attacked my wife for the longstanding friendships she had before she and I even met.
The senator indicated that the impending prosecution is motivated by racial bias, claiming that the people behind this effort “simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction.”
Menendez continued, touting his record fighting for the people of New Jersey and highlighting his opposition against “dictators around the globe.”
I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent. I have worked every day to repay their trust by fighting to create jobs, strengthen public safety, update infrastructure, and reduce costs for New Jersey families. I have also stood steadfast against dictators around the globe – whether they be in Iran, Cuba, Turkey, or elsewhere – fighting against the forces of appeasement and standing with those who stand for freedom and democracy. I remain focused on continuing this important work and will not be distracted by baseless allegations.
He concluded by expressing his confidence that the issue “will be successfully resolved” and that his “fellow New Jerseyans will see this for what it is.”
On Friday morning, U.S. Attorney Damien Williams detailed the allegations, saying that Menendez accepted multiple types of bribes from the businessmen, ranging from cash to gold to luxury items like his Mercedes Benz. In return, the senator is alleged to have leveraged his political influence to do favors for the businessmen.
The allegations have already impacted the senator’s political career. It could also affect New Jersey’s politics if he resigns. The governor would have to appoint another lawmaker to his seat. For now, the political community will be watching closely as the case against Menendez unfolds.