N.J. Senator Menendez Indicted on Bribe Charges

As I reported earlier, New Jersey Senator Robert (Bob) Menendez has been under investigation for corruption and bribery. This investigation has been ongoing two years now and was at the time close to an indictment. Well, the wait is over, and the Justice Department has finally put together a case.

AFP reports

US Senator Robert Menendez was indicted on charges of public corruption, following a two-year federal investigation into his ties to a friend who contributed large sums to his re-election campaign.

This is a serious situation for several reasons. First, we have to understand that an indictment of a Senator is serious, especially in a case of corruption and bribe taking. But this is worse because of who Menendez is and what power he has had as a Senator.

AFP explains

Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and lead author of legislation aimed at tightening sanctions against Iran, will temporarily step down from his role on the panel.

And Reuters adds

Menendez was chairman of the foreign relations panel until January, when Republicans took control of the Senate after sweeping election victories in November. He spent 13 years in the House of Representatives and was re-elected to his Senate seat in 2012. His current term ends in January 2019.

In my original report, I suggested that the Senator might be getting heat from the Justice Department at the behest of the administration. The reason is simple. Though Sen. Menendez is a strong supporter of many of the presidents policies, he has openly opposed him on Cuba and Iran. These two issues are not just pet projects for the president but are a part of his legacy.

In my earlier report I wrote

We have seen before that Obama has no problem with strong arm tactics with the media, and has threatened the same with Republicans. Now, there may be something to the thought that Menendez is being threatened for breaking ranks.

On Cuba and Iran, the Senator has continued to voice disapproval. It makes one wonder if there is any real meat to this evidence or if the charges have been pushed to dislodge Menendez from the Committee on Foreign Relations. But there is also the strong possibility that Menendez is on the take.

AFP reported

Melgen contributed some $750,000 towards Menendez’s 2012 re-election efforts, the indictment said.

Menendez was gifted more than 20 flights, mostly on Melgen’s private jets, between New Jersey, Florida and the Dominican Republic, where the senator — occasionally accompanied by a guest — was put up in Melgen’s posh Caribbean resort property.

At Menendez’s request, he was also provided a three-night stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome, valued at $4,934.10 and paid for by Melgen.

Menendez “never disclosed any of the reportable gifts that he received from Melgen,” prosecutors said.

As with the Clinton email scam, you have to wonder; if there is no impropriety, then why not disclose these gifts? Why hide legal dealings? And supposedly there was gifting the other way as well. Menendez helped three of Melgen’s girlfriends get visas and settled a dispute at Dominican ports. Both clearly benefitted Melgen.

The question is not whether there was illegal activity or gifts. The questions have to do with the timing of these charges.  Who most benefits if Menendez is removed from his committees for a time?