A group of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations representing millions of Americans nationwide has called on Senator Bob Menendez to resign from his position in the wake of his recent indictment on corruption charges.
Similar demands for the lawmaker’s resignation have been issued by numerous elected officials in New Jersey who supported Menendez in the past, as well as members of Congress and
Lisa McCormick, the progressive activist who took four of ten votes away from the Senator in the 2018 Democratic primary election, called on the lawmaker to resign the same day federal officials unsealed his latest indictment on corruption charges, which also involved his new wife and three New Jersey businessmen who showered the couple with gifts including a new Mercedes and gold bars worth thousands of dollars.
“US Senator Robert Menendez’s latest indictment subjects the nation itself to an unacceptable degree of peril since the 2024 New Jersey Senate race should not be competitive, but once again his unethical and selfish behavior creates far more uncertainty than necessary,” said McCormick.
“The federal indictment unsealed against you on September 22nd – the second during your career in the Senate – alleges a litany of misconduct and corruption,” said the nonprofit group letter. “It contains evidence implicating you in various schemes to profit from your position of trust in violation of your oath of office.”
The letter goes on to say that Menendez’s alleged actions make it impossible for his constituents to trust him to act on their behalf.
“We believe it is inappropriate for you to remain in office while you exercise this right,” the letter reads. “The people of New Jersey chose you to represent their interests in our government and to legislate and regulate on their behalf. Unfortunately, your alleged actions make it impossible for your constituents to trust that you will do so.”
The letter also states that Menendez’s indictment is leading to plunging faith in democracy.
“Your indictment – and the actions of other current and former public servants who also trade public trust for private profit – are leading to plunging faith in our democracy, with a majority of Americans believing that our government is corrupt,” the letter reads. “Ridding our government of corruption in all corners – or even the perception of corruption – is crucial to our democratic survival and national security.”
The letter concludes by calling on Menendez to resign.
“We encourage you to demonstrate a commitment to our democracy and ethical leadership by resigning your position,” the letter reads.
The letter is signed by the following organizations:
Alliance for Cuba Engagement and Respect (ACERE)
Anti-Corruption Data Collective
Center for American Progress
Center for International Policy
Chop Wood, Carry Water Daily Actions
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Declaration for American Democracy Coalition
The Digital Democracy Project
End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund
Free Speech For People
Golden Goose Kitchen
Indivisible Clackamas, 350PDX
Lawyers Defending American Democracy
League of Conservation Voters
People Power United
Progressive Change Institute
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Stand Up America
Menendez returned to court in New York and entered a not guilty plea to a charge alleging that the US senator conspired to act as an agent of the Egyptian government when he chaired the Senate foreign relations committee.
To protect the integrity of our democracy, Senator Robert Menendez must resign. Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington along with a coalition of over 25 nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations committed to protecting our democracy, including Center for American Progress, Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and Public Citizen sent a letter to Menendez calling on him to resign and outlining why his resignation is necessary in the wake of his indictment.
As a senator for New Jersey and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez has a duty to serve Americans and the Constitution. Rather than protect the public interest, Menendez allegedly used his office to profit. According to the federal indictment unsealed in September, the second in Menendez’s Senate career, he abused his power to scheme with the Egyptian government, including securing taxpayer money and weapons for the authoritarian ruler. These allegations paint a damning picture of a senator who seemingly repeatedly placed his own personal interests above the United States’ national security and democratic process.
While Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence and a fair trial for these charges, continuing to serve as he does is inappropriate. The people of New Jersey elected Menendez to represent them and their best interests. These allegations, however, make it impossible for his constituents to trust he will represent them. They deserve a senator they can trust to act on their behalf, without suspicion of conflicts of interest or attempts to enrich himself.
Menendez’s indictment and other current and former public servants who also trade public interests for private profit have damaged America’s faith in our democracy. Ridding corruption or even the perception of corruption is crucial to our democratic survival and national security. Menendez must resign.
Following the announcement of the second federal indictment of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington President Noah Bookbinder, a former federal corruption prosecutor, released the following statement:
“With these latest revelations, it’s time for Senator Menendez to resign. The stain of corruption continuously taints Menendez. CREW has for years raised concerns about Menendez potentially selling his position, and the Senate Ethics Committee previously found serious misconduct by him. The conduct outlined in today’s indictment and the evidence presented are even more damning. The people of New Jersey should not have to be constantly questioning whether one of their senators is taking action for them or to line his pockets. Menendez deserves a fair trial and a presumption of innocence on these latest charges, but it is not appropriate for him to remain in office. Out of respect for the institution of the Senate, he must step down.”
Center for International Policy releases the following statement in response to Senator Bob Menendez’s recent indictment:
“Corruption corrodes democracy and undermines security. Even the appearance of corruption — let alone substantial evidence of it — diminishes confidence in those who have been elected to govern. After the disastrous erosion of American international standing due to open, flagrant corruption in the Trump Administration, correcting course requires that we treat such matters with seriousness and urgency. Accountability is a cornerstone of effective democracy and necessary for building a foreign policy that works for and uplifts all, rather than the few.
While Senator Robert Menendez is due his day in court like any other person, the facts recently made public in his indictment make clear he is no longer fit to serve as an elected official. He should resign from the Senate immediately.”
The first Menendez case was a relatively rare case of a politician facing criminal prosecution even though there is a widespread perception that they work more for big campaign contributors than for their own constituents.
The New Jersey jury didn’t deadlock in a vacuum. In a series of decisions stretching back two decades, the Supreme Court has increased the burden for prosecutors fighting public corruption, making it more difficult for them to successfully bring cases.
In recent years, Congress has introduced legislation to partially roll back the deleterious impacts these decisions have had on the Justice Department’s anti-corruption efforts. But so far, those bills have not become law.
In 2015, 75 percent of Americans believed corruption was widespread in the government, according to a Gallup poll.
An in-depth 2015 study by the Pew Research Center found that 76 percent say “money has a greater influence on politics and elected officials today than in the past.”
The same number said the government is “run by a few big interests,” against 19 percent who agreed that the government “is run for the benefit of all the people.”
The influence of “special interest money” was listed as one of the biggest problems with elected officials, according to Pew.
It’s Getting Harder to Prosecute Public Corruption
But despite these perceptions, public corruption prosecutions by the Justice Department are at the lowest level in two decades, according to a 2016 analysis of federal data by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a group based at Syracuse University
One of McCormick’s top legislative priorities is “Outlaw Bribery” which puts her in a distinct minority among political candidates.
Outlawing bribery is a popular position among voters, with a 2019 poll by the Brennan Center for Justice finding that 82% of Americans support such a ban. However, it is a relatively rare position among political candidates, as many candidates are reluctant to take on the powerful interests that benefit from the status quo.
In response to the Justice Department’s 2015 indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today on public corruption charges, CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder issued the following statement:
“The conduct alleged in today’s indictment of Sen. Menendez is cause for grave concern. The Justice Department’s indictment paints a picture of a high-ranking senator selling his position in exchange for gifts including flights on a private jet.
“CREW has long expressed concern over the relationship between Sen. Menendez and Dr. Salomon Melgen and, more broadly, sought reforms to rein in the influence of big money in our government. Today’s indictment affirms the need to change business as usual in Washington. The Justice Department deserves credit for its determination to hold Sen. Menendez accountable.
“Sen. Menendez deserves a fair trial, but it is not appropriate for him to retain his powerful position within the Congress in light of the allegations against him, some of which could implicate foreign relations. Sen. Menendez should step down from his position as Ranking Member on the Foreign Relations Committee immediately, and if he does not, Minority Leader Reid should remove him.”