By John W. Lillpop
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, life-long DEMOCRAT, has recently been approved to take over as Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee to replace John Kerry who takes over the Secretary of State post vacated by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
As reported at Reference 1, Menendez is making other news as well, all of it bad, concerning his employment of an illegal alien in his Senate office and, even more news-worthy, his alleged ethics violations involving shady deals with big-money donors, and even more hideous, his rumored perversions with under age prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
The story from Reference 1:
John Kerry wiped away a tear Wednesday as he said farewell to Senate colleagues who had gathered in the chamber to wish him well as the next secretary of state.
But conspicuously absent was Sen. Robert Menendez, who a day earlier had been approved to replace Kerry as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one of the most coveted posts on Capitol Hill.
The achievement marked an improbable ascension by Menendez, 59, born to Cuban immigrants, raised in gritty Union City and practiced in the hurly-burly of Hudson County politics.
Yet the week hardly had the trappings of a political triumph.
The New Jersey Democrat is now accused by some critics of violating Senate rules for accepting two round-trip flights to the Dominican Republican in 2010 from a wealthy campaign donor, Salomon Melgen, an eye surgeon whose Florida offices were raided Tuesday night and again Wednesday by the FBI.
Menendez paid for the flights last month after a complaint was filed with the Senate Ethics Committee by a Republican New Jersey state lawmaker. He also faces anonymous and unsubstantiated accusations that he had sexual encounters with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, at least one of whom was underage.
The senator has vehemently denied the claims, and a spokesman, Paul Brubaker, said Menendez “is accustomed to politically motivated false allegations.”
The events tarnished what should have been a shining moment for Menendez, who spent much of his week ducking reporters in back hallways of the Capitol.
The timing for him was “just horrific,” said Ralph Carter, a political science professor at Texas Christian University who is an expert on the role of Congress in foreign policy.
“Once scandal is out there that you misused powers in a way that might beholden you to certain political contributors, that’s damage,” Carter said. “He’s damaged. He may be fatally damaged. If this goes further and he actually becomes the target of a formal ethics investigation, I think he’s out as chair. He could be out of Congress.”
Last May, Joseph Bigica, a major supporter of Menendez, pleaded guilty to using straw donors to funnel nearly $100,000 in illegal contributions to the senator’s campaign, which was not accused of any wrongdoing. It acknowledged having received the donation, but said it had been a victim in the case.
A campaign official said they planned to give the money to charity.
Bigica, of Franklin Lakes, admitted that from April 2005 to May 2009 he had conspired to make the illegal contributions to the campaign committee of an unidentified candidate for federal office. Officials did not identify the candidate, but campaign finance records show the donations went to Menendez.
Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, put it this way: “In a court of law, it’s wrong for a defendant to be forced to prove his innocence. But in a court of public opinion, that’s precisely what happens. He’s going to have to prove his innocence. He can scream unfairness all he wants, but those are the rules of the political game."
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not quite so vociferous in his support of the embattled Menendez, as reported at Reference 2:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has backed off his ardent defense of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez amid the scandal crashing down on his colleague.
In an interview on ABC News’ This Week today, Reid admitted the existence of multiple investigations into Menendez and his connections to wealthy Democratic Party donor Dr. Salomon Melgen. Reid dropped his rhetoric attacking this reporter, and other outlets that have been investigating the Menendez scandal, since this reporter first published interviews in early November with two Dominican Republic prostitutes alleging they were under-paid to have sex with Menendez.
“I have confidence he did nothing wrong,” Reid said Sunday morning in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, a former Democratic Party and Bill Clinton strategist. “But that's what investigations are all about.”
As usual, Harry Reid equivocates like mush when accusations are made against a Democrat colleague.
If only Reid had been so circumspect last year before he went to the floor of the US Senate to spread unsubstantiated rumors about Republican Mitt Romney!
Reference 1 http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/02/robert_menendez_fbi_doctor_pro.html
Reference 2: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/02/03/Reid-retreats-from-Menendez-defense-as-ABC-News-follows-Breitbart-s-lead-That-s-what-investigations-are-all-about?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter