Facebook Twitter

New Jersey governor calls for Sen. Menendez to resign after bribery indictment

Sen. Menendez, D-N.J., remains defiant in the face of growing demands for his resignation

SHARE New Jersey governor calls for Sen. Menendez to resign after bribery indictment

Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, talks about a display of photos of evidence in an indictment against Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., during a news conference, Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in New York.

Robert Bumsted, Associated Press

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, has added his voice calling for Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., to resign after being indicted for bribery.

“The allegations in the indictment against Sen. Menendez and four other defendants are deeply disturbing. These are serious charges that implicate national security and the integrity of our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement reported by Politico

Rep. Andy Hill, D-N.J., called on Menendez to resign Friday afternoon, saying, “These allegations are serious and alarming. It doesn’t matter what your job title is or your politics — no one in America is above the law.

“In the meantime, I don’t have confidence that the senator has the ability to properly focus on our state and its people while addressing such a significant legal matter,” he continued in a statement to The Hill. “He should step down.”

What other political leaders are calling Sen. Menendez to resign?

The Washington Post reports that Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., one of the most senior members of the state’s congressional delegation, is also calling for Menendez to resign. “I do not believe that Sen. Menendez can continue to carry out the important duties of his office for our state,” Pascrell said.

At least two other New Jersey representatives, Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. and Mikie Sherrill, have also called on him to resign, as well as the New Jersey state Democratic Party Chairman LeRoy Jones Jr., who said urging the senator to step aside was a “tough decision.”

“But to read the indictment is to see that these allegations are serious,” Jones said in an interview. “It just leaves people like myself and other elected leaders no choice but to call for his resignation.”

Earlier on Friday, Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., became the first Democrat to call on Menendez to resign.

What does the indictment accuse Sen. Menendez of doing?

The indictment accuses Menendez, who is up for reelection in 2024, and his wife, Nadine Arslanian, of a bribery scheme that includes using the senator’s position to covertly benefit the Egyptian government.

The 39-page indictment details the charges:

  • $480,000 in cash stuffed into jacket pockets, envelopes and a safe.
  • Another $70,000 in Arslanian’s safe deposit box.
  • A “no-show” or “low-show” job for Arslanian.
  • Mortgage payments.
  • A luxury vehicle.
  • Over $100,000 worth of gold bars found in their home.

How did Sen. Menendez respond to the indictment?

Menendez released a statement on the indictment, published in full in the New Jersey Globe. It reads in part:

For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. Since this investigation was leaked nearly a year ago, there has been an active smear campaign of anonymous sources and innuendos to create an air of impropriety where none exists.

Menendez also claims that prosecutors “misrepresented the normal work of a Congressional office” and that the charges are politically and racially motivated.

Those behind this campaign simply cannot accept that a first-generation Latino American from humble beginnings could rise to be a U.S. Senator and serve with honor and distinction. Even worse, they see me as an obstacle in the way of their broader political goals.

He has stepped down as chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Under Democratic Conference rules, a member in a leadership position or with a chair must resign if charged with a felony, but can be reinstated if the charges are cleared or dropped to a lesser charge.

Holly Richardson is the editor of Utah Policy.