Federal prosecutors charged Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) with bribery Friday—his second corruption related prosecution in the past decade.
According to the unsealed indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Department of Justice is accusing the Senator and his wife, Nadine Arslanian Menendez, of accepting “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” in exchange for political influence.
Prosecutors say the bribes included gold bars, cash, home mortgage payments, a luxury vehicle and compensation for a “low-or-no-show job”—Nadine Menendez was allegedly put on the payroll of New Jersey businessman Wael “Will” Hana, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that a “corrupt relationship” between Sen. Menendez and three businessmen, one of whom was Hana, began around 2018 when Nadine Menendez “worked to introduce Egyptian intelligence and military officials” to her husband. The agreement called for Hana, with the help of the two other businessmen, to provide bribes to the couple in exchange for the Senator’s using his position to benefit the Egyptian government, Hana and others.
According to CNN, Senate Democratic Caucus rules will force Menendez to step away from his position as Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, though he will still be allowed to serve on the panel
Sen. Menendez was previously indicted in 2015 on some dozen charges, including bribery and conspiracy, amid allegations that he accepted gifts from wealthy Democratic donors in exchange for political favors. That case ended in a mistrial when jurors failed to reach a verdict after a week of deliberations.
The Senator released a statement late Friday morning, writing in part, “I have been falsely accused before because I refused to back down to the powers that be and the people of New Jersey were able to see through the smoke and mirrors and recognize I was innocent. I have worked every day to repay their trust by fighting to create jobs, strengthen public safety, update infrastructure, and reduce costs for New Jersey families…. I will remain focused on continuing this important work and will not be distracted by baseless allegations.”
Menendez is up for re-election in 2024. He has been in the Senate since 2006.