Menendez and his wife have been indicted on charges of bribery. As reported by The Associated Press, a search of the couple's home turned up $100,000 in gold bars and $480,000 in hidden cash. The indictment alleges that Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information and took other steps to secretly help Egypt, including ghost-writing a letter on behalf of the authoritarian government there pushing other senators to lift a hold on $300 million in aid to the country. (Read the full indictment)
Federal prosecutors today announced the charges against the 69-year-old Democrat nearly six years after an earlier criminal case against him ended with a deadlocked jury. The latest indictment is unrelated to the earlier charges that alleged Menendez accepted lavish gifts to pressure government officials on behalf of a Florida doctor.
Phillip Jauregui is senior counsel and director of the Center for Judicial Renewal at AFA Action.
"The prosecutor from the Southern District of New York is very heavily tied in with Democrat politics," he points out, "and so that does make you wonder what's going on here. This is a Democrat senator who's up for reelection. Is there a bigger story? What's happening behind the scenes? And I don't know; we could speculate and some of it might be true – but that's kind of where we're left."
But Jauregui says the legal action against the Democratic lawmaker certainly seems to have political ramifications.
"Voters are fed up with the Marxism coming out of the Democrat administration – and so I think it's very foreseeable that a Democrat in a statewide race in a fair election in New Jersey would be in big trouble and might well lose next year," the attorney tells AFN.
"Perhaps there's something to be gained by them getting rid of this guy and bringing in somebody fresh who has maybe a new record – one that's not tarnished – and maybe somebody who can talk about other things besides a lot of this Democrat Marxism that we see coming out of Washington."
Today's indictment alleges Menendez and his wife accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from three business associates: Wael Hana, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. It also alleges Menendez's wife was given a Mercedes-Benz convertible by Uribe and Hana.
In a statement, Menendez labels the indictment a "smear campaign" by anonymous sources and a misrepresentation of the "normal work" of a congressional office.
Now that he is indicted, Menendez will have to step down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Rules for the Senate Democratic caucus say that any member who is charged with a felony must step aside from a leadership position.
Editor's Note: AFA Action is an affiliate of the American Family Association, the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates AFN.net.
Associated Press contributed to this story.