This is a developing story.
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez were indicted Friday morning for allegedly accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in bribes to influence protection on three New Jersey businessmen and benefit the government of Egypt.
Over $480,000 in cash were found in Menendez’s home stored in envelopes, clothing, closets and a safe. The bribes also allegedly consisted of “gold bars, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle and other items of value.”
The indictment states that Menendez allegedly:
- Used his power and influence to benefit the Government of Egypt
- Provided sensitive non-public US government information to aid Egyptian officials
- Improperly pressured a senior official at the United States Department of Agriculture to protect a business monopoly which was granted to Wael Hana by Egypt
- Used his influences to disrupt a criminal investigation undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General Office related to Jose Uribe
- Breached his duty and power to recommend that the President nominate an individual as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who allegedly Menenedez believed he could influence regarding the federal criminal prosecution of Fred Daibes
Hana, Uribe and Daibes are the three New Jersey businessmen who are also being indicted on charges.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Shumer announced that Menendez has decided to temporarily step down as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Under the Democratic Caucus Rules, a chair indicted for a felony that could lead to a sentence of two or more years has to step down, but may resume their position if not found guilty.
The five defendants could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Shumer stated that the senator “has been a dedicated public servant and is always fighting hard for the people of New Jersey. He has a right to due process and a fair trial.”
And it seems that some New Jersey residents notice the dedication even through “tough” times.
“When Bob Menendez was mayor, he did a lot for the community and when he was elected for Senator he continued to give back to Union City and Hudson County,” commented a Union City public works employee, when asked about the events. The town employee asked to remain anonymous.
Before becoming mayor of Union City, where Menendez grew up, he had testified against former UC mayor William Musto who was convicted alongside others on 36 counts of racketeering, extortion and fraud. Menendez wore a bullet-proof vest during the trail.
The Senator has not been found guilty on the current charges, but Governor Phil Murphy has asked Menendez for his resignation.
“The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menenedez to effectively represent the people of our state,” said Murphy in a statement. “Therefore, I am calling for his immediate resignation.”
If Senator Menendez resigns, Murphy will appoint his successor.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill called it a “sad day for New Jersey” today following the news. She is for the senator resigning, stating in a post on X, that “if proven true, there is no room for this kind of conduct in public service.”
These are serious allegations against Senator Menendez and if proven true, there is no room for this kind of conduct in public service.
Today is a sad day for New Jersey and I believe it’s in the best interest of our state that Senator Menendez resign.
— Rep. Mikie Sherrill (@RepSherrill) September 22, 2023
But Menendez seems to want to fight this out. In a statement released Friday night proceeding Murphy’s statement, the senator said, “Those who believe in justice believe in innocence until proven guilty. I intend to continue to fight for the people of New Jersey with the same success I’ve had for the past five decades. This is the same record of success these very same leaders have lauded all along. It is not lost on me how quickly some are rushing to judge a Latino and push him out of his seat. I am not going anywhere.”
This is following his earlier release stating that those behind the allegations, “.. simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction.”
With the senator up for reelections next year, there’s no telling if these accusations at hand could put into question his support for a seat in the senate. The Executive Director of the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership at Saint Peter’s University, Ginger Schnitzer believes there is still a lot to be played to determine whether this could have an effect on his campaign. She states it all comes down to timing.
“The Senator was cleared last time (2015) before the election. In this case, the timing is such that the legal proceedings are likely to be ongoing during the campaign,” she told Slice of Culture in an email. “We should note, however, that he would not be the first nor the last candidate to run for office while indicted— Former President Donald Trump has not halted his campaign for the Presidency in spite of recent indictments.”
Menendez, his wife, Hana, Uribe and Daibes are expected to appear in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.