It would seem that at least some Democrats have a soft spot for corrupt politicians, especially when it serves their bottom line.
According to The Washington Free Beacon, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is facing at least a dozen counts of corruption charges. But Democrat Senators have not only shown support for Menendez, they donated tens of thousands of dollars to Menendez after he was indicted in 2015.
In April 2015, Menendez was indicted on multiple counts of corruption, including bribery, when it was revealed he seemingly had a “corrupt pact” with Salomon Melgen, a wealthy donor and supporter of Menendez.
According to The Hill, it’s been alleged that Melgen was bribing Menendez for special favors by offering paid luxury vacations and use of his private jet in addition to a number of donations for his political campaigns.
Prosecutors maintain that Menendez would repay the bribes by helping Melgen with a number of things, from facilitating Menedez’s “foreign girlfriends” to receive immigrant visas or assist Melgen with millions of dollars worth of Medicare financial avenues, some of which have been found to be acts of fraud.
Richard Frankel, one Special Agent from the FBI behind the indictment, says both Melgen and Menendez were acting together in order to achieve a mutual benefit. “The purpose of the conspiracy was for the defendants to use Menendez’s official position as a United States Senator to benefit and enrich themselves through bribery,” he said.
Yet even these damning accusations of bribery and corruption did little to scare off other Democrats who have been benefitting from Menendez’s donations to their campaigns.
In February, Menendez funneled two checks from his New Millenium PAC amounting to $10,000 to former Vice Presidential candidate and current Senator, Tim Kaine (D-VA), for his campaign. In March, Senator Kaine then used his own Common Ground PAC to funnel the money again, in two checks totaling $10,000, back to Menendez.
Menendez has engaged in similar PAC to PAC trading with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Chris Murphy (D-CN), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). All of these trades were made after Menendez was indicted for corruption and bribery.
The spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Bob Salera, says voters are shocked and appalled by the blatant support for a seemingly corrupt politician, “Senate Democrats have continued to stand by disgraced Senator Bob Menendez even as New Jerseyans and the rest of the country have been disgusted by his blatant corruption,” Salera said. “Democrats will have to answer to voters about why they propped up a crook by financially backing him while he was under federal indictment for accepting bribes.”
Perhaps one reason for the support, other than the financial benefit, is the concern Democrats have about Menendez losing his seat in the Senate. According to Fox News, if Menendez is convicted of the corruption charges, he will face prison time. His necessarily empty seat in the Senate would then be filled by a replacement chosen by Governor Chris Christie (R).
Democrat Senators have not only shown support for Menendez, they donated tens of thousands of dollars to Menendez after he was indicted in 2015. Does this surprise you?
Considering Christie is Republican, he would most definitely appoint the position to a Republican, which would add to the Republican majority in the Senate and give the party an edge in future legislative issues.
Though there has been no adjudication of Menendez’s innocence or guilt, things don’t look good for the Democrat Senator. The evidence of bribery — or at the very least, highly unethical behavior — is overwhelming and Melgen’s character is shot given the 67 counts of Medicare fraud he was convicted of in April.
Whether fellow Democrat Senators were motivated to keep Menedez afloat for financial or political purposes, it seems that even their support might not be enough to keep Menendez from going to prison. If convicted, then these Senators will have to answer to voters for why they supported a seemingly corrupt politician.