Dem Sen. Menendez Vows to Stay in Congress, Fight Bribery Charges

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, a Democrat, adamantly refuted allegations of corruption on Monday and declared his intention to continue serving in Congress. These statements came after the lawmaker and his spouse were accused of accepting bribes from a trio of New Jersey entrepreneurs.

Ignoring pressure from fellow politicians in New Jersey, including the state’s Democratic governor, to vacate his seat, Menendez chose to stay on. This could pose challenges for Democrats as they strive to retain their slim 51-49 advantage in the Senate—though it’s worth noting that New Jersey hasn’t sent a Republican to the Senate since the early ’70s.

In compliance with Democratic Senate rules, Menendez has temporarily relinquished his duties as the head of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee. These rules mandate that members indicted for felonies must step away from leadership roles, though they can resume such positions if acquitted.

“In the end, when the complete story is out, not only will I be cleared of these charges, but I also fully expect to continue as New Jersey’s senior senator,” stated 69-year-old Menendez, marking his first comments since the indictment.

According to federal prosecutors, Menendez allegedly received gifts of gold and large sums of cash in return for leveraging his political power to assist the Egyptian government and obstruct police inquiries involving the implicated businessmen.

The legal authorities are seeking the forfeiture of Menendez’s assets, including his residence, a 2019 Mercedes-Benz convertible, and an accumulation of $566,000 in cash and gold reserves.

This marks the third occasion that Menendez has been the subject of a federal investigation, though he has yet to be found guilty in any prior case.

Menendez, his wife, and the accused businessmen are scheduled to appear in a federal courtroom in Manhattan this Wednesday. If convicted, Menendez and his spouse could potentially face a prison term of up to 45 years, although it’s common for judges to issue sentences below the maximum in such instances.

The New Jersey senator, a child of Cuban immigrants, has been a forceful advocate on international policy matters, sometimes even clashing with his own party. He criticized initiatives from President Barack Obama to normalize relations with Cuba and was a vocal opponent of the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord. Menendez also participated in multiple unsuccessful attempts to reform the U.S. immigration system.