The Menendez Situation

Menendez in Atlantic City.

People tend to believe the worst about Robert Menendez.

Sure, that can be true with any politician, but it’s more true with New Jersey’s senior senator. This has to have something to do with his Hudson County background and the fact he began his political career almost 50 years ago hitching his wagon to the Union City political machine of Bill Musto. Hint: Musto was not exactly a reformer.

These days many people may not remember, or even care about, that, but history is history and enough people know it.

So, the news this week that Menendez is again being investigated by the feds probably came as, “What else is new” to many observers.

Still, it’s necessary to consider the “facts” before making any judgments. And at the moment, there really aren’t many facts.

Menendez’ latest problems were detailed by Semafor – a new website that has already found a way to get attention.

Their report was rather sparse.

Citing two unnamed sources in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, the news site reported that the Menendez investigation is similar to the 2017 case, but with a different group of people.

In response, an advisor to Menendez said the following:

“Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, however he does not know the scope of the investigation. As always, should any official inquiries be made, the senator is available to provide any assistance that is requested of him or his office.”

The 2017 case referenced had to do with the indictment of the senator for doing favors for a Florida doctor and friend, Salomon Melgen, in exchange for campaign contributions and a variety of goodies. Menendez went on trial in Newark. but the jury was unable to reach a decision. Afterwards, the feds dropped the case rather than re-try him.

Everyone sees politics in everything, but those going that route in this case may be confused.

It was the Justice Department under Barack Obama that indicted Menendez, but it was the Justice Department under Donald Trump that dropped the charges.

If this case is similar to the earlier one, and if it does indeed move along, we will presumably learn about “favors” the senator allegedly did for whomever.

This gets into a debatable area. Politicians do favors for people all the time.

Which brings us to the Supreme Court’s infamous McDonnell decision involving the now-former governor of Virginia. In overturning his conviction for corruption, the court in 2016 set forth a rather limited interpretation of “official acts” by a public official. The upshot is that it became harder – as we saw in 2017 – to convict an office holder simply for doing favors for a friend if those “favors” are not linked to official acts.

But we are getting far, far ahead of ourselves.

As we wait for more info, it’s reasonable to ask about timing. This report surfaces about two weeks before the midterm election. What effect will it have on the election?

The guess here is no effect at all.

Menendez is not running.

It’s true that his son, Robert Menendez Jr., is seeking a House seat in CD-8. But a Democrat running in a mostly Hudson County district isn’t going to lose.

Moreover, let’s look back four years when Menendez was seeking reelection with his just-ended corruption trial very much in the news. He had no trouble winning.

And way back in 2006, news of another federal investigation surfaced. This one involved Menendez’ ownership of a Union City building that rented space to a non-profit agency that got federal money. This was in the run-up to the 2006 election – Menendez’ first as a candidate for the Senate.

It made no difference; Menendez won easily and that case was eventually dropped.

Yep, people may be quick to think the worst about Menendez, but voters seem to want him in office.

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4 responses to “The Menendez Situation”

  1. Everyone knows Melendez is a sleazy, corrupt politician who had lined his pockets while pretending to be an advocate for the people of NJ

    But he will never be investigated impartially. He’s become too powerful, too politically connected. His party will crush any opposition.

    I’ve said before The low information voters in NJ will continue to reelect the man until such time as he becomes as mentally unfit as Joe Biden. Melendez has everyone fooled as he panders to liberals and keeps the Hispanic population subservient to him.

    New Jerseyans get what they vote for. A corrupt career politician.

  2. This corrupt fraud should have been convicted in 2017! One of the jurors was seen at a Menendez fundraiser!
    He’s been dirty since his early days in Union City!

  3. Menendez keeps winning because he is the democrat in a state wide election in a state that strongly favors democrats. He doesn’t win on his merits, he wins because he is in the column that more people in this state pick. He’s a low profile senator who more or less wins on a generic ballot. I think the observation made here that “voters seem to want him in office” is a bit of a stretch and misrepresentation.

  4. I have been maligned and ignored since I was the only Democrat in New Jersey with the courage to challenge the corrupt Senator in 2018 but while we surpassed our goal of 150,000 votes, the turnout was higher than we expected because 120,000 women who were angry about Donald Trump and they never heard from my campaign.

    With only about $5000 to work with, I had to carefully target our messaging. We hoped pollsters would discover that the race was close, journalists would report on the contest and donors would gain interest but the onus was entirely on the campaign. Like the rebels in Les Miserables, the public didn’t rise to join our cause and the political establishment’s disgraced itself once again by rallying around the crook who was the only Democrat that might have lost in New Jersey that year.

    The media is still ignoring me. I wrote about the violent response from China to Menendez’s legislation that may provoke a war over Taiwan (instead of peacefully resolving the issues among three big trading partners) and reported that 350 corporations that support seditious Republicans also contributed to Senator Menendez and his PAC. This is likely the first time you are hearing about those matters.

    I may not be a perfect candidate but I am not going to rob the people who invest their trust in me. Seldom do contemporary candidates inspire confidence that they will serve honestly and do their duty. I’m sure 90 percent of Americans would but those folks are repulsed by the idea of actually running for office. Politics attracts people who are unquestionably not qualified to be public servants.

    Somehow, we need to remind citizens that democracy is not a spectator sport. Americans must rise up to the responsibility of citizenship or things will continue to get worse.

    And in addition to having a corrupt Senator (unanimously admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee) we have an Assembly Speaker who has plundered dozens of municipal treasuries, a South Jersey political boss who pocketed millions in league with Republicans like Chris Christie (much like the Essex County Executive), a millionaire allowing his campaign manager to profit as unregistered lobbyist and unofficial gateway to the governor (who also hires rapists and criminals) that behaves like an unrepentant misogynist.

    The outrageous conduct of Donald Trump is not enough to overlook the disgraceful behavior of our Democratic political establishment but too many people are so disgusted that they are unwilling to do what I did. It can’t stay like this.

    When Americans get into the political system and perform their duty to this country, we can fix all our problems but until that time, it feels like a few of us are yelling at the rain. We are not crazy. We are fighting for survival in a world that has many real dangers, from climate catastrophes to disruptive new technologies and deadly pathogens to potential nuclear conflagration.

    It is not true that “voters seem to want him in office” because they simply don’t have enough options in most cases and they have not yet run out of patience but if Americans do not make the republic function as it should, we may see a terrible alternative. We are on the cusp of a violent revolution and I hope that you reconsider sitting on the sidelines before it is too late.

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