It’s been a week since Senator Bob Menendez was indicted on bribery charges for allegedly accepting bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, mortgage payments and other luxuries in exchange for reportedly providing help to three New Jersey businessmen and the Egyptian government. 

The 39 page indictment states that Menendez allegedly used his influence of power to benefit businessmen Will Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes by pressuring an official at the United States Department of Agriculture to protect a business monopoly granted to Hana by Egypt, disrupting a criminal investigation and prosecution undertaken by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office related to Uribe, and recommending that the President nominate an individual as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey who Menendez could influence concerning a federal criminal prosecution of Daibes. It also states that he provided sensitive U.S. Government information and aided the Government of Egypt. 

According to the indictment, some of the bribes were paid through the senator’s wife, Nadine Menendez. 

Court Appearance 

On Wednesday, Menendez and his wife appeared in the U.S. district court where they pleaded not guilty. Menendez was released on a $100,000 bond and his wife on a $250,000 bond. Both are forced to surrender their personal passports, but the senator can still travel abroad on official business as long as he gives prior notice to the court. His wife is only able to travel to New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C and Florida.

The judge’s order prohibits contact with the co-defendants, except his wife, contact with Senate officials or his staff who know facts about the case. 

Uribe and Daibes were also arraigned on Wednesday. They have bonds set at $1 million and $2 million and have been given restricted travel. Both businessmen and Hana pleaded not guilty. Hana was arraigned on Tuesday with a $5 million bond and is set to adhere to a curfew and GPS monitoring. He has also had to surrender his passport. 

‘I am not going anywhere’

Since prosecutors announced the indicted charges, over half of the democratic caucus has asked him to step down. 

Photo Credit: Frances Micklow | The Star-Ledger

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who has been a supporter of Menendez in the past, said in a statement, “Stepping down is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgement that holding public office often demands tremendous sacrifices at great personal cost. Sen. Menendez has made these sacrifices in the past to serve.”

But Menendez has made it very clear, he does not intend to step down. 

“I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be exonerated, but I still will be New Jersey’s senior senator,” said Menendez at a press conference on Monday. 

At this time, he has only temporarily stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has also asked for Menendez to resign saying, “The alleged facts are so serious that they compromise the ability of Senator Menenedez to effectively represent the people of our state.”

And some residents are beginning to agree.

‘The story just repeats itself’

A NJ resident, who asked to stay anonymous, stated to Slice of Culture, “How is he the best person to represent NJ in the senate? He’s slimy just like all the political cronies in North Jersey. I grew up in Hudson County and the story just repeats itself. These people hold seats in power for way too long, playing the game of politics and ultimately, their constituents end up suffering.” 

This is the second time in 10 years that Menendez is indicted with federal charges.

He was previously charged with corruption related charges in 2015, but the case ended in mistrial. Before becoming mayor of Union City, he testified against former UC mayor William Musto who was convicted alongside others on 36 counts of racketeering, extortion and fraud

With the events that have unfolded in the last couple of days, there is still a long road ahead as news continues to sink in allowing politicians and community members to gather their opinions as Menendez continues to fight “his biggest fight yet.” 

“We need people with high morals that are incorruptible, have high ethical standards, and care about serving their communities more than they care about lining their pockets,” stated the anonymous resident. “This also isn’t a left or right issue, they are all playing the same game and you’re a fool if you believe otherwise.”

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