After a two year investigation, NJ Senator Robert Menendez has been indicted on federal corruption charges related to a West Palm Beach eye doctor.
According to the Times, Menendez has been charged with eight counts of bribery; each charge carries up to 15 years in prison. He was also charged with conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements on government documents.
The Miami Herald writes of the case: "Menendez, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is accused of accepting private plane flights and other gifts from Dr. Salomon Melgen, a major campaign donor, in exchange for trying to resolve the physician's multimillion-dollar billing dispute with the federal Medicare program." Those gifts included at least two round-trip flights worth $58,000 aboard Melgen's private jet.
Menendez becomes the first senator to face federal bribery charges since Harrison A. Williams Jr., a fellow NJ democrat, was indicted in 1980 in the Abscam scandal.
A few weeks ago, Jon Stewart took a look at several major NJ political scandals, including Menendez, and discovered that there is no such thing as a quid pro coincidence. "Our politics are so sick, symptoms we used to readily identify as evidence of cut and dry corruption are now shrugged off as, 'Eh it's a fuzzy line, what are you gonna do?'" he said. "We're that chronically ill."
Last month, as it became more and more likely that Menendez was going to be indicted, he said he had no plans to resign and vowed to fight any charges, telling reporters, "Let me be very clear, I have always conducted myself appropriately and in accordance with the law...And I am not going anywhere."
Menendez is holding a press conference at 7 p.m. tonight to address the charges.