Sweet Sue alerted me to the investigation of Senator Robert Melendez on corruption charges and asked me what I thought about it, being a former resident of NJ (I guess that qualifies me as a resident expert on this here blog).
So, here goes:
I’ve got no idea.
However, that never stops me from speculating.
As I said to Sue in the comments, I never quite understood NJ politics even when I dipped my toe into them at the local level. It seems to me that, especially at the US Congressional level, congressmen and senators are appointed, not elected. I say congressmen because for nearly 2 decades, there hasn’t been one woman elected to the US Congressional delegation from NJ- on either side. Nope, not one. You’d think that a state as dense as New Jersey, and I mean that sincerely, there would be at least one woman among the 8,938,175 residents who has the capability to be appointed, er, elected to Congress to represent the state. But try as they might, the political machines of both parties have failed to find even one in the entire state. It must be like trying to find Cinderella in a whole kingdom full of 4.5 million ugly stepsisters. But NJ is chockfull of Prince Charmings?? What are the chances?
I take that back, they found ONE in 2006. Her name was Linda Stender. She was a state assembly woman and former mayor who ran for a seat in NJ-07 and lost by a smidgen (something like 3000 votes). She ran again in 2008 and should have been a shoo-in but the state Democratic party, which had united behind Barack Obama, and promptly gave away our primary votes to him at the convention in Denver, decided not to back Stender very vigorously. In fact, I think the party kind of stabbed her in the back. So, she lost again to some Republican dude who probably spends his time in Washington golfing.
By the way, someone owes the NJ volunteers who phone banked and canvassed for Hillary and Stender an apology for wasting our time. Those are many solid weekends of our lives that we won’t get back. Why not just dispense with the silly notion that a primary vote or congressional election in New Jersey has any meaning? Think of all the money the state party will save taxpayers if they just admit up front that voting has no impact on who gets elected. Just divvy up the state districts by party, appoint some dude to be the representative and be done with it. It’s more efficient and honest. Wait, that’s the way it’s done currently. Why not be upfront about it?
But I digress.
Back to Menendez. When Chris Christie was merely a US Attorney, he badgered Menendez with a bogus investigation just before Menendez was appointed to serve out Jon Corzine’s senate term. It was something along the lines of Menendez using a personal address nefariously or writing it off on his taxes or some silly BS. In other words, it was a nuisance investigation from a blowhard political appointee US Attorney who would later become the notorious Chris Christie. It all came to nothing.
This investigation into the corrupt Senator Bob Menendez seems equally sketchy. So, a Florida doctor set Menendez up with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic? What are the chances? There’s a bit more on bribes and payments but it all seems pretty vague. It reminds me of the charges against Charlie Rangel that tied him up in knots and sidelined him when he was Chairman of the Ways and Means committee. He was probably one of the most powerful men in Washington at the time he was investigated and forced to spend time and loads of money defending himself. In the end, I think he was censured for shoddy paperwork. Gosh, we could all be censured for that. But the whole point was to defang him at a time when he was at his political zenith.
So, I asked myself, “Self, what committees is Robert Menendez on?” And then Self toddled off and did a Google search on that question. Here is the answer:
- Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
- Committee on Finance
- Committee on Foreign Relations (Ranking Member)
- As ranking member of the full committee, Sen. Menendez is an ex officio member of all subcommittees
Hmmm, if I were to guess, one of these committees is going to have a vote or number of votes on something that is very important to someone(s). There are a number of tasty possibilities. Finance? Health Care? Consumer protection? It could be any one of a number of special interest groups. We shouldn’t assume that the current justice system isn’t on their payroll. Remember how well the justice system investigated the bankers with their sternly worded letters? No? Go read that book by Neil Barofsky. This is the Obama administration going after Menendez. He must not be toeing some line. What could it be, what could it be?
Just a guess. But then, it doesn’t take much to set my tinfoil antenna twitching these days. Note that if Menendez is forced to resign, Chris Christie gets to appoint his replacement, I think. Isn’t that special?
Dominican chicky-babes and political favors for Florida doctors just doesn’t seem plausible. He’d have to be the slowest Democrat on the planet after witnessing what happened to Charlie Rangel, Eliott Spitzer and the Big Dawg. That’s not to say that it didn’t happen. After all, we’re talking about New Jersey, which has a reputation to maintain. But I’d like to see solid, incontrovertible, un-doctored proof, not vague innuendos.
PostScript: Germany just approved legislation that would mandate a quota of 30% women on corporate boards. Translating this into NJ politics, at least 30% of the legislative districts should have women from both parties running for office next time. Pick any four of the 12 NJ districts, find two women, one from each party, and elect some female reps forpetessakes. This all male dominated delegation thing is embarrassing.