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.