Democratic Senator Bob Menendez Pleads Not Guilty To Corruption Charges

Bribery Indictment Threatens New Jersey Lawmaker’s Decades-Long Career

Newark, NJ — Veteran New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges Wednesday amid mounting calls to resign his office pending explosive accusations he peddled political influence for lavish overseas gifts.

Menendez and his wife appeared in Manhattan federal court to formally deny prosecutors’ bribery conspiracy indictment returned last week. The charges allege a years-long scheme involving private jet trips, luxury hotel stays and massive campaign donations supplied by a wealthy eye doctor and allies.

Investigators paint a damning portrait of the Democrat exploiting power for extravagances like Parisian vacations and Dominican resort getaways. In return, the most senior Hispanic lawmaker in Congress purportedly squeezed consulate officials, lobbied Medicare overseers and sponsored special visa legislation benefiting his benefactors.

The senior senator maintains innocence despite the Justice Department’s second attempt convicting him for ethics breaches. A previous trial ended in a deadlocked jury before charges were dropped. Menendez temporarily ceded his Foreign Relations Committee chairmanship but refuses colleagues’ demands to fully resign.

“Like you, I was just deeply disappointed and disturbed when I read the indictment,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who stopped short of urging Menendez’s departure. “Clearly, when you read the indictment, Senator Menendez fell way, way below that standard.”

Others went further, including New Jersey’s junior Senator Cory Booker publicly questioning whether Menendez can effectively continue serving constituents. State allies also distanced themselves as the veteran lawmaker vowed to fight for vindication at trial.

For now, Menendez persists reporting to Capitol Hill while relegated to reduced influence within the Democratic Caucus. But the shocking corruption accusations undermine trust in a party promising clean government, raising uncomfortable questions on overlooking alleged serious sins while controlling Congress.

With a 2024 reelection bid pending, the bribery case’s outcome may determine whether New Jersey voters ultimately repudiate Menendez’s stubborn refusal to surrender his seat over breach of public trust allegations. A not guilty verdict could revive his sagging stature. Anything less imperils a storied career sunk by appetite for forbidden luxury.

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