Three Ways the Menendez Mess Could Ensnare the Democratic Party

When Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-N.J.) public corruption and bribery trial began Wednesday, Republicans were quick to suggest the affair would lead to consequences for the Democratic Party.

GOP-aligned groups hammered Democratic lawmakers for failing to distance themselves from the New Jersey senator or urge him to resign. Menendez remains intent on running for re-election in 2018, despite the more than a dozen charges brought against him as part of the corruption scandal — and, at least so far, his party seems unwilling to denounce him.

“The Democratic Party was seen as the epitome of the corrupt, failed status quo in 2016,” the GOP-aligned America Rising PAC Executive Director Alexandra Smith said in a statement Wednesday. “Senator Menendez’s corruption trial will only solidify that narrative as voters look forward to the 2018 midterms.”

On the day his trial began, Menendez faced reporters and affirmed his belief he is innocent.

“I started my public career fighting corruption — that’s how I started — and I have always acted in accordance with the law,” he said.

“And I believe when all the facts are known, I will be vindicated,” Menendez continued, adding: “not once have I dishonored my public office.”

The allegations against him, however, claim that the New Jersey Democrat did more than merely dishonor his public office. Menendez is accused of wielding his political power in an attempt to prevent Dr. Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend, donor and ophthalmologist, from paying $8 million he owed the Department of Health and Human Services. The fines were levied against Melgen for engaging in illegal billing practices that earned the doctor 67 felony-count convictions.

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