Report: Sen. Bob Menendez Mulls Reelection Bid as Independent Despite Bribery Charges

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who is federally accused of accepting gold bars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for his influence as a senator, is reportedly mulling an independent reelection bid.

Citing a pair of sources “who spoke with him directly,” NBC News’s  and  reported Thursday that Menendez is considering an independent run:

He is now making calls to allies about his record and career and is preparing to collect petitions to run in November as an independent, the sources said. If Menendez were to run as a Democrat, he would need to come up with 1,000 signatures by March 25th — so time is not on his side. But running as an independent would give him more time; in that case, he would only need 800 signatures by June 4th to qualify for the ballot.

A clearly frustrated Menendez did not deny that he’s planning to run as an independent when asked by NBC News Thursday afternoon, saying multiple times: “I don’t have to declare what I am doing. When I do, everybody will know.”

The report comes days after Menendez entered a not-guilty plea to newly added charges in what has grown into an 18-count indictment, as the Associated Press noted. The fresh obstruction of justice charges to which he and his wife Nadine Menendez pleaded not guilty on Monday “are related to what prosecutors say were efforts to cover up the illegal bribes,” per the outlet.

Notably, multiple prominent Democrats seized on Menendez’s legal woes and declared bids for his seat. New Jersey first lady Tammy Murphy and Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ) are running for Senate, and both would likely be more palatable options for Democrat voters than the criminally accused 70-year-old if he, too, were on the Democrat ballot.

In a post on X after NBC News’s report surfaced, Kim quickly made his case about why he should be the Democrat nominee, contending that if Menendez runs an independent campaign, Democrats must offer their best candidate in the general election.

“If Sen Menendez runs as an independent, Dems must put forward the strongest general election candidate. I’m a Dem that won a district Trump won twice and am currently appealing to independent voters by far bigger numbers than my competitors,” Kim declared:

“I can win this [November] no matter what Menendez decides to do,” added Kim, who is backed by Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), one of Menendez’s most ardent critics, who has repeatedly called for his resignation.

Prosecutors allege the Menendezes accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes” from three New Jersey businessmen – Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes – “in exchange for his influence and power as a Senator to seek to protect and enrich” them and “benefit the Arab Republic of Egypt,” as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York laid out in the original September indictment.

“Two of the three businessmen accused of bribing Menendez also entered not guilty pleas on Monday. A third, Jose Uribe, pleaded guilty two weeks ago to bribery charges and agreed to testify against the others at a trial set for May 6,” the Associated Press noted.


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