U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was indicted on Wednesday, April 1. The 61-year old senator has been in public life for more than 40 years.
Menendez was indicted on corruption charges which accuse the senator of actions taken on behalf of a wealthy campaign donor in exchange for expensive vacations and gifts.
The indictment charges Menendez with conspiracy with his friend and donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, eight counts of bribery and other charges, including making false statements.
The indictment states that Menendez made overtures to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which claimed Melgen overbilled the government by nearly $9 million. It also claims that Menendez intervened two other times by making inquiries on behalf of Melgen and his friends.
In exchange for taking these actions on behalf of Melgen, Menendez allegedly accepted, among other things, free flights on Melgen’s private jet and vacations at Melgen’s resort home in the Dominican Republic, as well as campaign contributions and contributions to the senator’s legal defense fund.
Menendez said the charges against him are “outrageous.” He claimed that all the claims against him were trumped up by political enemies.
“I’m confident that at the end of the day, I will be vindicated, and they will be exposed,” Menendez said.
However, the senator will step down from his position as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is from that seat that the New Jersey senator has proven to be particularly irksome to this administration, as Menendez has pushed hard for increased sanctions against Iran throughout the current negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear power program.
Most congressional Democrats have been in lock-step with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, but Senator Menendez has pushed back hard against the administration’s insistence on pursuing an agreement with a wily adversary few believe will ever follow the terms of any deal.
Menendez also opposed Obama’s decision to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba. The senator is Cuban American.