Federal prosecutors filed an indictment against Democratic New Jersey senator Robert Menendez on Friday, claiming the veteran politico and his wife Nadine accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and kickbacks from dozens of constituents, business associates, and others.
For Menendez, 69, the indictment marks the second time in less than ten years the three-term senator and chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been implicated in a criminal case, involving allegations of conspiracy. After a mistrial, he managed to fend off the charges in 2017, and prosecutors opted not to refile charges. Menendez has been New Jersey’s senior state senator since 2006.
According to various reports, prosecutors contend Menendez and his wife accepted gold, home mortgage payments, compensation for non-existent or no-show jobs, vacations, and other lavish gifts in exchange for the senators’ vote or influence on various issues. Shortly after the indictment was announced on Friday, Menendez was temporarily forced to step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Shortly after the indictment, Menendez issued a statement denying the charges. “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,” he said. He added that prosecutors have been overzealous to disgrace and humiliate his family. “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.”
Calls for Menendez to immediately resign as state senator have increased from top Republicans and Democrats–including NJ Gov. Phil Murphy, Representatives Donald Norcross, Frank Pallone, and Bonnie Watson Coleman. Additionally, former governor and current 2024 Presidential candidate Chris Christie. said Menendez should step down. Christie added that he has no interest in running against the embattled senator for his senate seat next year. Lastly, Menendez will appear in court on Wednesday.
This is a developing story; stay with NJ Urban News for updates….