U.S. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. Federal prosecutors announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat, nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges that alleged Menendez accepted lavish gifts to pressure government officials on behalf of a Florida doctor.
The Senate Historical Office states that Menendez appears to be the first sitting senator in U.S. history to have been indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations. Menendez, who faces reelection next year, aims to extend his three-decade career in Washington. Democrats currently hold a narrow majority in the Senate.
Lawyers for Menendez and his wife have not responded to messages seeking comment. In the previous indictment, Menendez was accused of using his political influence to assist a Florida eye doctor who had provided him with gifts and campaign contributions.
Menendez’s political career had faced uncertainty in 2015 when a federal grand jury in New Jersey indicted him on multiple charges related to favors he allegedly did for Dr. Salomon Melgen. The charges included pressuring government officials, securing visas for the doctor’s girlfriends, and protecting a contract the doctor had with the Dominican Republic. The case was dropped after a jury deadlocked, but the Senate Ethics Committee later rebuked Menendez for improperly accepting gifts and failing to disclose them.
Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, has held public office since 1986 and has served as a state legislator, U.S. Representative, and Senator. While other senators have faced indictments, Menendez appears to be the first to be indicted on two unrelated criminal allegations.
The new charges against Menendez and his wife follow a yearslong investigation that examined their connections with a New Jersey businessman and a New Jersey developer.