This article was published by The McAlvany intelligence Advisor on Monday, September 24, 2018: 

This writer expressed surprise and dismay in this space back in February after learning that President Trump’s Department of Justice had dismissed charges of corruption against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. The depth, breadth, and length of those charges made the case against Menendez by the DOJ appear to be airtight. In his article titled “Corrupt New Jersey Senator Dodges Another Bullet” he wrote:

[Menendez’s] corruption goes back decades, and is so extensive that corruption-aggregator DiscoverTheNetworks.org (DTN) has six densely written pages on it. He’s been in New Jersey politics since he was 20 years old, and has turned graft and corruption into an art form. Just two examples from DTN suffice:

 

In 2010 the Wall Street Journal reported that Menendez had written to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, asking him to approve the Crown Bank of Brick’s acquisition of the failing New Jersey-based First Bank Americano (FBA), whose chairman and vice chairman were both major Menendez donors. (That acquisition, had it been approved, would have prevented the two executives from losing whatever was left of their investments in the bank.) All told, 8 of FBA’s 15 directors had given money to Menendez or his political action committee. Former federal bank regulator William Black, a Democrat, called Menendez’s letter “grotesquely inappropriate” insofar as it directly asked regulators to approve an application, rather than to simply place it under consideration. A scathing FDIC report indicated that FBA had engaged in numerous unsafe or unsound banking practices over the years, and the acquisition ultimately was disallowed.

 

In December 2012 it was reported that one of the interns working in Senator Menendez’s office was an 18-year-old immigrant from Peru who was living in the U.S. illegally and was a registered sex offender. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency first became aware of the man in October 2012, but the Department of Homeland Security instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after the November elections; Menendez, whose six-year Senate term was drawing to a close, was among those on the ballot. When news of the intern’s background finally broke five weeks after Election Day, Menendez denied having known anything about the directive to delay the young man’s arrest.

That was just a sampling. Menendez and his “good friend” Salomon Melgen faced 18 charges of corruption, self-dealing, and failures to report income, but Menendez’s trial ended with a hung jury. They included but were not limited to trips to the Dominican Republic provided by Melgen to Menendez on his private jet, which Menendez failed to report properly. There was political pressure and influence that Menendez brought to bear that indirectly benefitted Melgen. The 68-page indictment against Menendez looked persuasive, alleging that Menendez had attempted, on Melgen’s behalf, to influence a State Department official in a dispute involving one of Melgen’s business interests in the Dominican Republic; that Menendez tried to help Melgen “resolve” a dispute the doctor was having with Medicare over billing fraud; and that Menendez had ordered his staff to secure visas for several of Melgen’s prostitutes.

While Menendez somehow managed to escape the hangman’s noose, his “good friend” Melgen wasn’t so lucky. He is now serving time in a federal prison – 17 years – for bilking Medicare out of $100 million. Menendez received a slap on the wrist from the Senate Ethics Commission, but he hoped that New Jersey voters would soon forgive and forget.

In February Menendez received an unwelcome surprise: he was to be challenged for his seat by an unknown with a large checking account. His name is Bob Hugin, executive chairman of Celgene, a biopharmaceutical company, who saw an opportunity to challenge the weakened and discredited senior senator. In February Hugin announced his candidacy for Menendez’s seat, initially funding the campaign with a $7.5 million personal loan. In April he showed up in the polling by Monmouth, trailing Menendez by 21 percentage points.

The latest poll from Quinnipiac, released on Friday, shows him trailing Menendez by just six points. Two previous polls showed an even tighter race.

Hugin’s campaign, now enjoying insertions of another $8 million of his own money and some considerable help from Republicans who see a chance to send Menendez packing, has focused primarily on the incumbent’s ethical “problems” with ads titled “Guilty,” “Screwed,” and “Dead Last.”

Hugin’s campaign is being helped along by the state of New Jersey’s economy as well. Calling himself a fiscal conservative, Hugin opposes the higher taxes that are scheduled to begin in October. The Tax Foundation rates New Jersey as having the worst tax climate for business, and the highest property taxes, in the entire country. Said Hugin, “The affordability crisis in our state continues to get worse. We’re losing millennials at the highest rate in the nation, and Trenton politicians just made things worse by raising taxes another $1.6 billion.”

Mendendez is trying to play catch-up ball as Hugin’s early money has essentially defined the political conversation: it’s all about Mendendez’s corruption and New Jersey’s awful business climate.

If Hugin is able to continue to close the gap and win the election, his victory not only would successfully end forever Menendez’s political career, but also end the Democrat Party’s dream of taking control of the Senate. That party needs two seats to accomplish that dream, and a loss in New Jersey to a Republican would for all intents and purposes end that dream.

Hugin is no jewel. A graduate of Princeton followed by a 14-year stint as a managing director at J.P. Morgan, Hugin is a social liberal, supporting abortion rights, gay marriage, and a pathway to citizenship for illegals. But if he wins in November, at least he won’t have been indicted by the federal government or sanctioned (“severely admonished” is the term used against Mendendez) by the Senate Ethics Committee. And there is a fair chance that his voting record as measured by the John Birch Society’s Freedom Index would be better than Menendez’s dismal 18 out of 100.


Sources:

McAlvanyIntelligenceAdvisor.com: Corrupt New Jersey Senator Dodges Another Bullet – 2/2/2018

McAlvanyIntelligenceAdvisor.com: Corrupt New Jersey Democrat Senator Menendez: Justice Could Be Served Even if He’s Found Innocent – 1/29/2018

RealClearPolitics.com: Menendez in Jeopardy as Senate Challenger Makes Push

NJ.com: What N.J. Democrats REALLY think about Menendez’s chances in this Trump-fueled election

Menendez’s Freedom Index rating: 18 out of 100.

Background on Bob Menendez

Deeper background on Menendez (six pages)

Background on Menendez’s challenger, Bob Hugin

RCP polling results: New Jersey Senate – Hugin vs. Menendez

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