Senator needs to step up and resign his post

I am not at all surprised to hear that the U.S. Justice Department is preparing to bring criminal corruption charges against Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey.

These charges are not new — alleging he used his Senate office to push the business interests of a Democratic donor and friend in exchange for gifts, allegations that he solicited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, and that he violated the law helping win permanent U.S. residency for two Ecuadorian banking magnates, the Isaias brothers. These charges all date to 2012 or so. Sen. Menendez also had an intern, Luis Abrahan Sanchez Zavaleta, who was an illegal immigrant and a registered sex offender.

What is different this time is that Sen. Menendez is not as powerful and thus enjoys less protections. He led the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2009 to 2011, and was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee until Senate control flipped last year. That made him a too big a target. Now he is just a ranking member. And the Justice Department does not want to hold any punches against top-ranked politicians.

Congress' historically low approval and confidence ratings of the last decade are in major part due to corrupt behavior of some of its members and pandering to various lobbies — whether corporate or ethnic. In case of Sen. Menendez, it is both — he is a darling of both corporate and ethnic lobbies, such as the Armenian lobby. Other darlings of the Armenian lobby as well as corporations in the Congress who made the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Most Corrupt list: disgraced Rep. Michael Grimm, R-New York, former Rep. John Tierney, D-Massachusetts, former Rep. Rob Andrews, D-New Jersey, Rep. David Valadao, R-California, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Enough said.

When such individuals as Sen. Menendez have anything to do with U.S. foreign policy (or any serious issue, really), it is no wonder we are all in such a mess. I hope the Justice Department will not shy away from prosecuting Robert Menendez to the full extent of the law. It would be better if Sen. Menendez will have the decency to resign his seat now, and not drag this sham out.

Mert Atayurt Atayurt

West Lafayette

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