More Gutter to Get to: The U.S. Senate Debacle, Three Weeks Out

In the hectic days before the 2012 election, a report appeared on a right-wing website alleging that Bob Menendez had sex with prostitutes – under age no less – in the Dominican Republic.

Other than the Internet, the report got little attention. This was a presidential year and most attention was focused on that. Menendez was running for reelection at the time, but his opponent, Joseph Kyrillos, was not considered a threat. The Senate race was not big news.

Additionally, most reputable news organizations are not going to run such an unsubstantiated and salacious story a few days before an election.

Menendez won his race easily and the prostitution tale faded from view. Sort of.

It was always bubbling beneath the surface in right wing social media.

Now Bob Hugin is bringing it into the open.

A new Hugin TV ad centers on the prostitution charge and ties it to Menendez’ opposition to now Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, The point is that Menendez is being hypocritical in condemning the judge for alleged sexual abuse while he himself was cavorting with prostitutes.

Hugin’s ad has given new life to the six-year-old accusation. Republicans Leonard Lance and Jay Webber already are using it to unfavorably link their Democratic opponents to Menendez in congressional districts 7 and 11 respectively.

While nothing is off-limits in politics, this one certainly stretches the truth.

A few months after the charge initially surfaced six years ago, three women who were identified as Dominican prostitutes admitted to local authorities that they were paid to fabricate the Menendez story.
It is also instructive that the much-discussed federal indictment against Menendez mentioned nothing about the prostitution allegations. The case was dropped after a jury was unable to reach a decision.

The Hugin campaign apparently is weaving together parts of a 2015 brief by prosecutors and an affidavit by an FBI agent that speaks of an unknown informant who relayed claims from unidentified prostitutes. Anonymous people talking about what other anonymous people allegedly did is not the best information in the world.

So, why is the Hugin campaign going this route? That’s curious because Hugin already has made this an interesting campaign by raising legitimate facts involving Menendez, namely the indictment and his admonishment by a Senate ethics committee.

Does he really need to dredge up allegations that are dubious at best?

It is also interesting, but not surprising, that Lance and Webber quickly moved to use the allegations in Hugin’s ad to their benefit.

Lance said it wanted “lifelong progressive” Tom Malinowski to respond to the latest allegations.  Webber, who long has been trying to link Menendez to Democrat Mikie Sherrill, said in a tweet that it has become obvious that you can’t vote for Menendez and be a champion for  women.

All that is typical rhetoric, but you have to wonder if Malinowski, Sherrill – or even Menendez – are going to try to turn the tables.

Donald Trump’s less than stellar relationships with many women is well known. Remember the Access Hollywood tape?

One avenue for Democrats would be to ask their GOP opponents how comfortable they feel supporting a man who bragged he could get away with sexual assault simply because he’s rich and famous.

One thing about gutter politics. The lower you go, there’s always more gutter to get to.

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2 responses to “More Gutter to Get to: The U.S. Senate Debacle, Three Weeks Out”

  1. “…most reputable news organizations are not going to run such an unsubstantiated and salacious story a few days before an election.” In contrast, of course, to their “reputable” approach to the last second Kavanaugh allegations. (eyeroll)

  2. MSNBC’s “distraught” Stephanie Ruhle excoriates the dems for running Menendez…

    “Newsbusters” has the Stephanie Ruhle episode documented…

    “But in terms of Democrats and Democratic leadership, they have been pushing this idea that Donald Trump – and I get it – is an amoral guy, he lies every which way you can possibly think of. But then, I look at states like New Jersey and I talk to New Jersey voters and I talk about the corruption we see or the self-serving we see, and they say, “Well, it’s not just Republicans, what about Bob Menendez?” A Democrat, like you, in the state of New Jersey who is running again. And this guy was plagued with a corruption mistrial. If Democrats want to run on being the moral authority, is it the right move to have a guy like Menendez running again?”

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