August 22, 2017

REMINDER: A Sitting Democratic Senator Is About To Go On Trial For Corruption Charges

This morning, Politico profiled Abbe Lowell, Senator Menendez’s attorney. The crux of the profile focused on how his role in the Menendez trial presents “his toughest challenge yet.” Lowell faces such a daunting task because the prosecutions charges against the New Jersey Democrat are so rock solid:

“The crux of Lowell’s looming challenge in the Menendez case: dismantling federal prosecutors’ claims of a quid pro quo. The Latin phrase neatly captures the prosecution’s allegation that more than $750,000 in political do nations given by wealthy ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen — and a slew of private jet flights, luxury hotel stays and other gifts — amounted to bribes delivered in exchange for Menendez’s help.”

Additionally, Senator Menendez’s trial is such a formidable undertaking for Menendez’s defense team because Menendez suspiciously hid the illicit gifts Salomon Melgen gave him:

“Another Edwards-Menendez commonality: secrecy. Just as the scheme to hide Edwards’ pregnant mistress was carried out secretly, prosecutors contend much of Melgen’s generosity to Menendez was similarly hidden. The plane flights, hotel stays and meals were not reported on Menendez’s annual financial disclosure forms.”

As Jon Tester and Chuck Schumer recently showed when they accepted genorous gifts from Claire McCaskill, gifts of plane flights and hotel stays must be reported on your financial disclosure. Menendez’s lack of disclosure makes the single count of making false statements on his financial disclosure particularly dangerous to his future freedom:

“Even if jurors or judges conclude that proof of bribery is lacking, another danger lurks for Menendez. At the end of the indictment, prosecutors included a single count of false statements regarding his omission of Melgen’s gifts from personal financial disclosure forms the senator filed from 2006 to 2010.”

In a year when the Democratic Party has gotten consistently embarrassed, Senator Menendez’s upcoming trial will be a crowning showcase of their dysfunction.