The political world is buzzing with speculation in the wake of the bribery allegations filed against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and his wife Nadine. Both sides of politics have criticized the lawmaker and he has now lost his position as chair of the Foreign Relations Committee.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York claims that Menendez took bribes from three businessmen over a period of four years in exchange for his use of his influence to their benefit. He is also accused of sharing “sensitive” data with the Egyptian Government.
Menendez denies the allegations, saying he is the victim of a vicious campaign to discredit him. He issued a statement commenting 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.
It is clear that these prosecutors have gone beyond the call of duty. They have misrepresented what a normal Congressional office does. Not content to make false accusations against me, the group has also attacked my wife’s long-standing friendships that she had even before we met.
The senator said that the impending prosecution was motivated by racial prejudice, saying that those behind the effort “simply could not accept that a Latino American of humble origins from a first generation could rise to become a U.S. Senator.” “I am proud to serve as a Senator with distinction and honor.”
Menendez went on to tout his achievements in fighting for New Jersey’s people and his opposition to “dictators all over the world.”
I’ve been falsely accused because I refused the power that be. The people of New Jersey saw through the smoke and mirrors to recognize my innocence. I’ve worked hard to repay the trust of New Jersey residents by creating jobs, strengthening public safety, updating infrastructure, and reducing costs for families. I have stood firm against dictators in Iran, Cuba, and Turkey and fought against appeasement forces. I will continue to work on this important project and not get distracted by false allegations.
He expressed his confidence in the “successful resolution” of this issue and that “his fellow New Jerseyans will recognize it for what it really is.”
U.S. attorney Damien Williams elaborated on the allegations Friday morning. He said that Menendez had accepted bribes in various forms, from cash and gold to luxury goods like his Mercedes Benz. The senator is accused of using his political influence in return to gain favors from the businessmen.
Already, the allegations have affected the Senator’s career. If he were to resign, it could have a negative impact on New Jersey politics. The governor would need to appoint a new lawmaker to fill his seat. The political community will watch closely the progress of the Menendez case.