Corruption-charged Senator Bob Menendez announces he won’t run again

Menendez faced calls to resign after being federally indicted on charges related to a bribery scheme

Ariana Baio,Eric Garcia
Thursday 21 March 2024 22:50 GMT
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Bob Menendez announces he's not running for re-election

Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democratic Senator being accused of accepting lavish bribes in exchange for political favours, announced he will not seek re-election.

In a nine-minute-long video posted on Thursday, Mr Menendez said he would not run again due to the accusations he faces related to a years-long bribery scheme. However, he did not rule out the possibility of running as an independent candidate after his federal trial.

“Unfortunately the present accusations I am facing, of which I am innocent, and will prove so will not allow me to have that type of dialogue and debate with political opponents that have already made it the cornerstone of their campaign. New Jerseyans deserve better than that,” Mr Menendez said.

He later said: “I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election.”

The announcement comes just days ahead of the deadline for primary candidates to file for their candidacy.

In the video, Mr Menendez spent a considerable amount of time listing his accomplishments since he was elected to represent the Garden State in 2006.

Bob Menendez announces he is not running for Senate again
Bob Menendez announces he is not running for Senate again (Menendez For Senate)

Mr Menendez was indicted in September on charges related to an alleged bribery scheme alongside his wife Nadine Menendez and two New Jersey businessmen.

Mr and Ms Menendez are accused of accepting hundreds of thousands worth of bribes in the form of cash, gold bars, jewelry and a Mercedez-Benz convertible in exchange for political favours that benefitted the governments of Egypt and Qatar.

Prosecutors brought a superseding indictment against Mr Menendez in March for allegedly trying to cover up the bribes as “loans.”

Mr Menendez is expected to go to trial in May.

The New Jersey senator faced calls for resignation from his colleagues, including his fellow Senator Cory Booker, following the indictment.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticised Mr Menendez in a press conference on Wednesday.

“The Senate has certain standards and Menendez fell way below it, we’re deeply disappointed in him” he said, but did not call for his expulsion.

The indictment also set off a bitter Democratic primary to replace Mr Menendez, with Demoratic Congressman Andy Kim receiving grassroots supports whereas Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s first lady and the wife of Governor Phil Murphy, has received the support of much of New Jersey’s Democratic political establishment.

A solidly blue state, the Senate seat is almost guaranteed to go to a Democrat. In 2018, Mr Menendez easily won re-election after a mistrial for corruption charges.

The indictment forced Mr Menendez to step back from his role as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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