New Jersey’s Bob Menendez Might Run as an Independent

US Senator Bob Menendez Indicted Again in US Bribery Case

Photo: Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Most politicians would probably consider resigning when federal prosecutors hit them with corruption, like aiding foreign governments in exchange for wads of cash and gold bars. But most politicians are not New Jersey senator Robert Menendez. Not only did the former chairman of the Senate’s foreign relations committee refuse to step down when he was charged last September for allegedly running his office as a bribe magnet for Jersey real-estate interests and Egyptian meat importers, he has not ruled out running for his seat again in 2024.

Now, according to NBC News, Menendez is mulling reelection as an independent. He is reportedly calling allies about the idea of a such a run and is getting ready to collect the 800 signatures necessary by June to appear on the ballot this fall. Menendez, apparently not one for transparency, told NBC News: “I don’t have to declare what I am doing. When I do, everybody will know.”

If Menendez were to run, it could dramatically change the race for the Senate seat he has held since 2006. As it stands, Representative Andy Kim Tammy Murphy, the wife of Governor Phil Murphy, are seeking the Democratic nomination. Kim told NBC News that Menendez’s entry into a three-way race could “jeopardize this seat and give Republicans a chance.” New Jersey hasn’t elected a Republican senator since 1972, so the threat may be exaggerated. But a Menendez run would certainly stress out the eventual Democratic candidate.

Menendez is facing 18 federal counts for his alleged bribery in office, including conspiracy to act as a foreign agent and obstruction of justice. His wife is also facing bribery and extortion charges for accepting lavish gifts in exchange for allegedly using her husband’s station to try and influence government policy. Both have pleaded not guilty. So as his attorneys prepare for trial beginning on May 6, his legal fees are piling up. These legal bills may be another reason Menendez is considering an independent run. As the former president knows, you can’t use campaign funds to cover attorney fees unless you are actually campaigning for something.

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