We know beyond a shadow of doubt that political corruption never ends. Sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t why are we not surprised?
Recently in New Jersey (aka the Corrupt Capitol of the U.S.), an article appeared in the Asbury Park Press exposing a political fraud and how other politicians are so excited because it opens the door for takeover. The article was written by Charles Stile of the APP. Here goes; Oh yeah, all comments in ( ) are mine.
“U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez is in a spot no career politician wants to be. Federal prosecutors want to put him in a prison cell, and operatives in both parties are already measuring for curtains in his Washington office.
Menendez, 63, whose trial on federal corruption charges is set to begin Wednesday (9/6/17) in Newark, has no intention of going anywhere except back to work.
He has steadfastly maintained his innocence of charges that he put his Senate office at the service of friend and donor, Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, in exchange for a lavish list of gifts – free air travel; trips to Melgen’s villa at a Dominican Republic resort; and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations.
After charges were filed, Senator Menendez said in court and to the public that he was not guilty and looked forward to showing that the allegations against him were false. Now, as the trial approaches, he will have the opportunity to do that so all can see. His attorney said that the Senator is in good spirits, has faith in the American system of justice, and is confident that when all the facts are heard, he will be vindicated.
For nearly four decades, Menendez, clawed his way up through Hudson County politics, first as a member of the Union City school board.
He went from mayor to legislator to Congress and the Senate in 2006. During his climb he became a powerful caretaker of the North Jersey Democrats, and a counterweight to the ascendant South Jersey political bloc.
Now, with his career in peril, Menendez opens the door for more scrambling and political opportunities (my comment).
Both parties are spinning hypothetical scenarios of a New Jersey political landscape without Menendez and how they could benefit from his departure.
Republicans are salivating over the prospect of padding their slim, two-vote majority in the senate.
A number of close calls and close collapses – the last attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) came up one vote shy in late July – has underscored the importance of having a bigger cushion of votes in the unpredictable, wild ride of the Donald Trump era.
Republicans are banking on a long-shot scenario where Menendez is convicted sometime this fall and will vacate the seat, either through cutting a plea deal with prosecutors or if the Republican Senate moves quickly to expel him.
Since the task of filling a vacated Senate seat would fall to the sitting governor, Republicans hope that Menendez will abandon his seat sometime before (corrupt) term-limited Republican Gov. Chris Christie leaves office on Jan. 16th. If that happens, Christie is expected to pick a Republican replacement.
But to many, expelling Menendez before Christie leaves office remains a GOP pipe dream. For one thing, The Senate Ethics Committee, which would investigate and recommend a possible removal, has traditionally moved slowly.
The Senate moved to expel NJ Sen. Harrison “Pete” Williams in May 1982, 10 months after he was convicted in the notorious “ABSCAM” investigation. Williams was captured on tape accepting a loan from an FBI informant disguised as an Arab Sheikh.
Expulsion is rare, in part, because it requires a two-thirds vote of the Senate. Expelling Menendez, then, would require Republicans to enlist the support of 15 Democrats.
Aware of the steep math they face, Republican operatives are planning to turn up the heat on 10 incumbent Senate Democrats up for re-election last year in states that President Trump won and a handful where Democrat Hillary Clinton barely won.
A spokesman for the National Senatorial Campaign Committee said the if Menendez is convicted, Senate Democrats will have a choice to make – whether to stand with a convicted felon, or do the right thing. The right thing being pledging to support expulsion because it would be hard to face voters in a Republican state, saying you voted against censuring or expelling a guy who has been convicted.
Others, though, are saying that turning a possible Menendez conviction into a national election issue is unlikely with the ever present Trump devouring the daily news cycle. Trump, with his dismal standing in the polls, his divisive rhetoric ranging from Charlottesville to pardon the Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpalo and his so far, thin resume of achievement, will loom large over the 2018 midterm contests.
While Democrats may be forced to distance themselves from Menendez, Republican challengers will have to decide how far to run away from the president, the party’s standard bearer.
If convicted, most Democrats expect Menendez to appeal and exhaust all legal options before resigning – a process that could take well into next year.
Gubernatorial candidate and Democrat Philip Murphy, who enjoys a 27-point lead in the polls over Republican Kim Guadagno, as well as a 3-to-1 advantage in cash, is favored to succeed Christie this November. The possibility that a new Governor Murphy picking a replacement has many Democrats jockeying for a just-in-case position.
Among them is former Senator Robert Torricelli who was severely admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for taking gifts from a longtime campaign contributor. Congressman Donald Norcross, who represents the First District in South Jersey is another possibility. His brother George, who is the state’s most powerful unelected Democrat official, along with Robert, have been supportive of Menendez throughout the legal battle and held a fundraiser for him earlier this year.
George is holding a fundraiser for Murphy and the Democratic Association in Cherry Hill, which is seen as an attempt to boost his brother’s chances (FYI, Murphy is a phony that only says what he need to say to get elected. What else is new?)
A spokesperson for George said the fundraiser is part of the routine party-building work George has done for the Democratic Party and viable candidates for governor (nothing like sucking up to the money guy!)
If Menendez is acquitted the the discussion is moot. But, even then Menendez faces more political headaches.
The Senate Ethics Committee, which halted its own probe of Menendez’s gifts from Melgen two years in deference to the federal investigators, will likely resume its work, armed this time with trial testimony. The panel could then possibly release its findings during Menendez’s 2018 re-election campaign.
That prospect, could in theory, weaken his re-election chances. Some Democrats might be emboldened to challenge him in a primary.
But most Democrats lack the money or the stomach to take on Menendez, a formidable fundraiser (who takes money from wherever he can get it) and a take-no-prisoner campaigner. He has already put $3.7 million in his campaign account.
Here’s the bribes he was accused of:
“ Influence immigration visas so Melgen’s girlfriends from Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Ukraine could visit him in Florida;
“ Pressure the State Department to convince the Dominican government to honor a Melgen-owned company’s exclusive contract to screen outbound cargo containers;
“ Stop the Homeland Security Department from donating cargo-screening equipment to the Dominican government;
“ Influence Medicare officials in a $9 million billing dispute over Melgen being reimbursed for administrating multiple doses of an expensive eye drug drawn from what were supposed to be single-dose vials.
Menendez faces six counts of bribery, three counts of honest services fraud, one count of conspiracy, one count of interstate travel to carry out bribery, and one count of making false statements on his congressional financial disclosures to conceal the crimes.
(Maybe it’s about time we abolish the “two-party” system and vote for a person based upon what he/she would like to accomplish).
If you think this is bad, I will put together an article describing the Hawaii fraudulent rail project that will literally blow your mind about blatant lies and corruption.