The Republican National Committee (RNC) released a new video ahead of the federal bribery and corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez that reveals the GOP’s hunger to gain a seat in Congress without winning approval from voters.
Menendez and his co-defendant Dr. Salomon Melgen pleaded not guilty to the 18 counts of fraud and bribery filed against them.
With a new video ad called, “Why Would It Be Any Different Now?” the GOP compares remarks made after the conviction of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens with the situation created by Menendez’s public corruption trial.
“Democratic Senator Robert Menendez’s public corruption trial is a big deal, but it has been vastly underreported in the media,” said Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. “This case is ripe with corruption and chock full of lies involving lavish resorts, nearly one million dollars in gifts, and political favors leveraged to benefit a wealthy donor who has already been convicted of defrauding Medicare of more than $90 million.”
“A sitting U.S. Senator involved in a federal bribery trial and facing 14 corruption-related counts is no small potatoes,” said McDaniel. “If convicted, Senate Democrats need to immediately call for his resignation.”
The 60-second clip highlights the bipartisan calls for former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to resign immediately following his conviction in 2008, the most high-profile corruption trial of a sitting senator in recent history.
In 2008, Stevens was embroiled in a federal corruption trial as he ran for re-election to the Senate. He was found guilty, and eight days later was narrowly defeated at the polls. Stevens is the most senior U.S. Senator to have ever lost a reelection bid. However, prior to sentencing, the indictment was dismissed—effectively vacating the conviction—when a Justice Department probe found evidence of gross prosecutorial misconduct. Many have argued the prosecution was unfair and politically motivated.
The public corruption trial is set to kick off Wednesday with opening statements in federal court in Newark, starting more than two years after charges were initially filed against Menendez and his alleged co-conspirator, Dr. Salomon Melgen.
Melgen showered Menendez with expensive vacations and campaign donations in exchange for the senator interceding on his behalf in several disputes with government officials, according to prosecutors.
After Menendez was elected to the Senate in 2006, Melgen began flying the lawmaker on a private jet to and from his Dominican Republic villa for weekend getaways free of charge plus he paid for a pricey Paris hotel stay, but Menendez failed to report the value of those gifts.
Melgen also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the senator’s campaigns, legal defense funds and political action committees that supported Menendez, according to court documents.
Melgen owned an interest in a company that had a contract with the Dominican Republic to provide x-ray screening of cargo entering Dominican ports. Menendez pressured the US State Department to intervene to resolve a dispute in his favor when that business ran into problems with the government in the Dominican Republic.
Menendez also asked the head of the agency to back off when the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) charged Melgen with overbilling taxpayers by $8.9 million.
On at least three different occasions, Menendez asked the US State Department to grant tourist visas to three different foreign girlfriends of Melgen so the young women could visit the United States.
On April 28, 2017, Melgen was convicted on dozens of counts of Medicare fraud in a Florida case.
In 2013, after the federal investigation became public, Menendez paid Melgen $58,000 for the 2010 plane trips calling his failure to properly disclose the flights an “oversight.”
“Menendez did not simply arrange meetings for Melgen or introduce him to other officials,” said Randall Eliason, a former chief of the public corruption section of the DC US Attorney’s Office and now professor at George Washington University Law School, in a blog post. “The senator himself attended various meetings and otherwise advocated for Melgen’s interests. Unlike McDonnell, Menendez was actively engaged in trying to influence the outcome of the matters in question.”
The reason that it is different now is Republicans control the senate, and the Democrats are afraid that they are going to lose another senate seat
Why Would It Be Any Different Now?
“Are Democrats Really Going To Let A Convicted Felon Stay In the Senate?”
“September 6, 2017”
REPORTER: “A stoic Senator Robert Menendez reporting to federal court this morning, as a federal defendant.”
REPORTER: “Menendez was indicted by the Justice Department on 14 felony accounts related to favors allegedly done in exchange for gifts and political contributions.”
“‘I don’t think Menendez has to run out and resign if he’s convicted.’ – Former DNC Spokesman Brad Woodhouse, The New York Times, August 17, 2017”
“But Democrats and Republicans used to agree that a convicted felon should resign immediately.”
“October 27, 2008 – Republican Senator Ted Stevens Convicted On 7 Felony Counts”
REPORTER: “Found guilty now on all 7 counts, again Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, at this hour, found guilty on all 7 counts.”
“‘It’s time to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling…Senator Stevens should step down.’ – Senator Barack Obama, October 28, 2008”
“‘The reality is that a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate.’ – Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid, November 1, 2008”
“‘It is clear that Sen. Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down.’ – Senator John McCain, October 28, 2008”
“Democrats and Republicans were against a convicted felon serving in the Senate then…”
“Why would it be any different now?”
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