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Bad Behavior

Who Hasn’t Hid Money in Their Suits and Googled How Much a Gold Brick Is Worth?

While also being a U.S. senator from New Jersey.

Senator Bob Menendez. (Menendez Flickr account)

Robert Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey, is no stranger to being indicted. So today's news that the U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York was indicting Menendez and his wife Nadine for (allegedly) accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars of bribes in exchange for helping a group of New Jersey businessmen who were deeply tied to the Egyptian government, came as no big surprise. 

In a statement defending his alleged actions, Menendez all but stated there was a conspiracy against him, saying that "for years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave." He then went on to portray himself as an adversary against totalitarians the world over. "I have also stood steadfast against dictators around the globe—whether they be in Iran, Cuba, Turkey, or elsewhere—fighting against the forces of appeasement and standing with those who stand for freedom and democracy," he said, conveniently leaving out the extremely undemocratic country he's alleged to have done the bidding of—Egypt. 

Whether Menendez will resign or be forced out of office will play out over the next few months, although given that he's previously been indicted, tried, and walked free, he has no reason to go anywhere. But for now, at least we have this glorious, glorious indictment—which includes gold bars, dumb code names, alleged wife crimes, and emojis in reaction to million-dollar weapons deals for countries perpetrating human rights abuses. 

Here are the "Hell yes, New Jersey, you've done it again" details from the indictment: 

  • During a June 2022 raid at the Menendez home, federal agents found $480,000 in cash stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, including jackets bearing Menendez's name. The agents claim that the fingerprints, and possibly the DNA, of Fred Daibes, a New Jersey real estate developer with ties to the Egyptian regime, were found on the money as well. 

Oh god, look at the photos:

(Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District)
  • In addition to the money, investigators found a car furnished by one of the New Jersey businessmen, and "well as over one hundred thousand dollars' worth of gold bars in the home." Menendez, after receiving the gold bars, actually went and GOOGLED how much a gold bar was worth. (Incognito mode, people! It's not just for paywalls!)
(Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District)
  • Almost immediately after Nadine Menendez began dating the senator in 2018, she also began to connect Menendez with New Jersey businessmen who were also doing business with the government of Egypt. Why? Well, the indictment alleges that Menendez, as the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Commission, held approval power over large pots of U.S. aid money for Egypt's military, aid money that had been held up as some elected officials raised concerns about human rights abuses in Egypt. But with Menendez being showered in gifts, and a promise of a no-show job for Nadine, Menendez began letting money to Egypt flow. In one intercepted text message, Menendez wrote to his wife to let the Egyptian businessman know that he had approved the arms sales. Nadine then forwarded that message to an Egyptian government official who…responded with an emoji. 
(Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District)
  • Nadine Menendez formed a company (with the very funny name "Strategic International Business Consultants") with the alleged express purpose of funneling bribes to the senator. In exchange for payments to her company, the indictment states that the senator lobbied the USDA against investigating an Egyptian monopoly that was the source of all Egyptian halal imports from the United States. 
  • After Nadine got into a car accident, the senator allegedly interfered with prosecutors pursuing state charges against a friend of one of the New Jersey businessmen being prosecuted for insurance fraud…in exchange for a new car for Nadine. “All is GREAT! I'm so excited to get a car next week. !!” Nadine texted one of the businessmen, after Menendez made a few calls. 

Nadine also texted this to the senator: 

(Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District)

This afternoon, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called on Menendez to resign. Murphy clearly doesn't appreciate a man who just really really loves his wife, the great country of Egypt, and delicious halal meat (imported at great expense).  

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