Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) has long been accused of suspected political corruption and bribery and was even previously indicted and prosecuted for such crimes, though that effort at accountability ended in a mistrial.
Now it has been reported that the top Democratic senator who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is under federal investigation once again, according to the Washington Examiner.
Menendez is said to be facing similar allegations of bribery and corruption as he did before, albeit with different players this time around.
Under investigation again
Media outlet Semafor was the first to report the “scoop” that, according to two anonymous sources, Sen. Menendez was once again the subject of a federal investigation.
The sources claimed that federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York had made contact with individuals around the New Jersey senator in recent weeks, and at least one subpoena had already been issued in the probe.
Those two sources — the first described as someone “directly connected to the investigation,” the second a New Jersey attorney said to be informed of the details of the case — asserted that the “broad outlines” of this new inquiry matched that of the failed 2017 prosecution attempt.
That case that ended in a mistrial stemmed from a 2015 indictment against Menendez which alleged that he had engaged in a bribery scheme with a friend who was a doctor in Florida, which involved the friend providing gifts and vacations to the senator in exchange for his assistance with procuring government contracts and other favors.
Aware but ignorant of details
New York’s WNBC reported that Sen. Menendez, through a public relations adviser, acknowledged the existence of the new federal investigation but claimed ignorance of what that inquiry might specifically be about.
“Senator Menendez is aware of an investigation that was reported on today, however he does not know the scope of the investigation,” Michael Soliman, an adviser to the senator, said in a statement. “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 outlet also noted that Menendez had been federally indicted in 2015 for bribery, conspiracy, and fraud charges related to the allegations of gifts for favors but dodged any accountability after his 2017 trial ended with a hung jury and the Justice Department decided in 2018 to not attempt a retrial.
Admonished by colleagues for apparent ethics failure
Yet, according to the Examiner, while Sen. Menendez avoided conviction at that time for his alleged crimes, he was sharply rebuked by the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee in 2018 for having “knowingly and repeatedly accepted gifts of significant value” without proper approval of the committee or public disclosure, as is required by both federal law and Senate rules.
It will be interesting to see if anything further comes of this or if Menendez will once again sidestep any legal consequences for his allegedly corrupt behavior. If the latter, it will likely fall on New Jersey voters to hold the Democratic senator accountable for his alleged corruption when he stands for re-election again in 2024.