Tag Archives: New Jersey

Yep, Sen. Menendez ought to quit

The curious world of politics at times deprives politicians of the presumption of innocence granted to “ordinary citizens.”

Such is the case with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who’s been indicted on a host of corruption charges.

He ought to quit the Senate and pursue his defense as a private citizen.


A federal grand jury indicted Menendez on felony counts relating to his close relationship with an eye doctor, Soloman Melgen, who flew Menendez to the Dominican Republic on his private jet — trips that Menendez failed to disclose to congressional ethics officials.

There’s a lot of other allegations involving favors exchanged between the men. The amazing detail of the indictment suggests there’s considerable fire under all that smoke.

Is the senator guilty? I have no clue.

This much is clear: His service in the U.S. Senate will be clouded forever by this indictment. How in the world can this man conduct the public’s business when he is defending himself against a federal indictment?

Why does this matter to anyone outside of his home state? Well, he’s a federal official himself and he votes on laws that affect all Americans, even those of us out here in Flyover Country.

As the New York Time editorialized in calling for his resignation: “Mr. Menendez is evidently not in a hurry to get to the stage of contrition, having warned on Wednesday that he’s ‘not going anywhere.’ He would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician. His colleagues in the Senate should demand that he step aside.”

Politics can be a dirty business. It doesn’t allow for the normal presumptions of innocence granted to non-politicians. That’s the way it is.


Gov. Christie plays with fire by hugging Jerry

You’ve got to love the political back story developing with the newly revealed “bromance” between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager/media hound Jerry Jones.

Christie and Jones are longtime pals. Jones invited Christie to attend the Jerry World Taj Mahal-like stadium in Arlington, where the Cowboys play football. The two of them sat in Jones’s luxury suite and cheered for the Cowboys, who defeated the Detroit Lions in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

The nation saw Jones and Christie hugging in jubilation.

Big deal? Well, yeah, sort of.


Jones paid for Christie’s plane ticket to Texas, which might violate New Jersey political ethics laws prohibiting elected officials from accepting such gifts.

Then there’s the booing Christie is getting from fans of the New York Jets and Giants, who play their home games in Rutherford, N.J. That’s not a big deal, given that neither the Jets or the Giants are in the playoffs.

But it gets a little trickier.

Christie might run for president in 2016. His friendship with Jones isn’t going to matter much in Texas, which already is a heavily Republican state. Christie’s GOP credentials aren’t going to be questioned here if he decides to run for his party’s nomination.

The Cowboys, though, do have fierce rivalries with the Giants and now, after the controversial game with Detroit, with the Lions — who got considerable help this past week from a couple of blown calls on the field by the officiating crew. New York and New Jersey lean Democratic in presidential elections; Michigan, meanwhile, could be considered a “swing” state in the next election.

Politics. It’s everywhere. A guy just can’t go to a football game on his pal’s dime? Not in this day and age if you’re considering a run for the presidency.

Senate Loudmouth Caucus about to expand

I’ve taken great pleasure the past several months savaging the boorish behavior of rookie U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

His “crime” has been an inability to keep his trap shut while learning the ropes of the institution to which he was just elected in November 2012. He jumped right into the thick of the fray — and right in front of every TV camera in sight — to tell the world what he thinks about everything under the sun.

I’m sick of the sound of his voice — and he’s only been a senator for nine months.

Cruz is a member of what we ought to call the Loudmouth Caucus in the Senate.

His ranks are likely to expand early next month. The beauty of the Loudmouth Caucus is that it’s a bipartisan organization. Anyone can join. Cruz is about to be joined, no doubt, by a Democratic colleague from New Jersey.

Ladies and gents, let’s welcome Sen. Cory Booker.

Booker is the mayor of Newark, N.J. He won a Democratic primary a few weeks ago and is set to be elected to the unexpired term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Yes, Booker has a Republican opponent, but it doesn’t matter. Booker’s going to win the election. Then he’ll run for re-election to a full term later and he’s likely to be re-elected.

Why is this man’s pending entrance into the Senate worth noting? It’s because he’s going to battle Cruz tooth-and-nail for face time on every TV news camera one can find on Capitol Hill. I’d put money on that.

Booker is as uninhibited as Cruz. He loves the sound of his voice. He loves seeing his face on TV. He talks and talks and talks — and at times it’s nearly impossible to follow the man’s train of thought.

Booker has made a name for himself as Newark mayor by doing some unconventional things, such as rescuing a resident from a burning building. He’s also picked up a shovel and cleaned out storm drains. He’s a working mayor, or so he would have us believe.

Booker is likely to set out proving he’s a working senator, too — although I’m not sure we’re going to see him performing manual tasks the way he has done as mayor. He’s likely just to talk a lot about all the hard work he will do.

I’ll make this prediction: Booker will anger his Democratic colleagues as much as Cruz has angered his fellow Republican senators. Given the anger that permeates the capital these days across party lines, it’s a given Booker is going to have enemies on the other side — just as Ted Cruz did — the moment he takes the oath of office.

Get ready for a lot more noise coming from the World’s Oldest Deliberative Body.