Federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday the long-anticipated indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) on 14 counts of public corruption over a seven-year period.
According to the details of the indictment, Menendez is charged with accepting luxury gifts, free rides aboard a corporate jet, vacations and three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign donations.
The Department of Justice is arguing Menendez benefitted from these gifts in exchange for political influence in the business dealings of a longtime friend, Salomon Melgen, who was also named in the indictment.
Sen. Menendez remained indignant, responding that he is “angry and ready to fight”. He refused to resign amid the scandal vowing “I’m not going anywhere.”
Should he ultimately be convicted, his seat would be filled via a temporary appointment from Gov. Chris Christie before a special election would be called, which could have serious implications on the 2016 election cycle and the battle for Senate control.
What’s more, should Christie’s presidential prospects continue to falter, the possibility that he could run for the office himself is not without merit given that his term as New Jersey’s governor does not end until 2017.