Is Bob Menendez the next Bob McDonnell?
New Jersey Democrat Senator Bob Menendez will face trial on 12 charges of corruption after a federal appeals court refused his request to throw the charges out.
As one of the Senate’s most liberal members, Menendez was indicted for allegedly providing favors to a large donor.
The Third Circuit rejected his argument of the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause,” which prohibits the arrest of House and Senate members for statements made on the floor and would have shielded him for arrest based on votes.
“Today’s ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is just another step in the legal process that, at the end of the day, will show that Sen. Menendez has always acted in accordance with the law,” Menendez’s attorney Abbe Lowell said.
While the arrest and impending trial of a liberal politician would normally be good news, even conservatives are disturbed by the charges against Menendez, whose case mirrors the bogus charges against Virginia Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, whose conviction on these similar charges were thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Menendez is accused of intervening on behalf of Florida ophthalmologist Dr. Salomon Melgen in a Medicare billing dispute, after Melgen had given Menendez hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and personal gifts.
It is illegal for lawmakers to provide official favors in exchange for gifts or campaign contributions.
But Melgen and Menendez have been close friends for decades.
And many of Melgen’s gifts were given long before he had a dispute with the federal government.
And the Justice Department could not find any evidence of an agreement between Menendez and Melgen citing favors in exchange for cash or gifts.
In other words, it’s almost exactly the same case the Supreme Court threw out when it was made against Bob McDonnell.
So if there’s no evidence of corruption, why did Menendez get indicted?
The answer appears to be political.
While Menendez is a reliable liberal, he’s also an outspoken critic of Barack Obama.
Specifically, Menendez has been outspoken in his opposition to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Oddly, Menendez’s indictment came after he vowed to stop Obama’s agreement with Iran.
And the indictment was handed down by the same Obama Justice Department that met with IRS officials in 2010 to discuss arresting conservatives after polls had made it clear Obama was about to lose his House majority in just weeks.
Even Republicans are calling out the Justice Department for, once again, trying to arrest and imprison Obama critics.
“And let me say something about Bob Menendez. I believe that Bob Menendez was indicted solely on the crime of opposing the President on Iran,” Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk said at a fundraiser just after the indictment.
Bob Menendez may be a liberal, but the case against him is flimsy.
The case against the Justice Department for trying to arrest and imprison Obama critics, however, is only growing stronger.