The American political system has been described as the best democracy money can buy. Financial scandals are rampant but even in this business of sleaze, some politicians show greater flair for it than others. Democratic Senator Robert Menendez is one of them. He is under FBI investigation for bribes as well as consorting with prostitutes. Some might say this comes with the turf.
Washington DC, Crescent-online
Sunday February 2, 2014, 11:03 EST
Are American politicians corrupt is like asking whether dogs bark. The issue is not whether they are corrupt; the real issue is their level of corruption.
Some politicians are more corrupt than others. The majority of members in the United States Congress are millionaires. Those that aren’t yet soon join the club by raising money from “friendly” donors for whom they do favors. It is all very civilized.
It is called campaign contributions and even the US Supreme Court thinks it is perfectly legitimate for corporations to make donations.
Despite this legalized corruption, there are still instances of some senators that keep their snouts in the trough for far too long and become an embarrassment even for the corrupt system. Most members of congress also display extreme forms of Iranophobia and Islamophobia. It is considered a sure winner with the American public although many have started to see through the vicious campaign of vilification.
Consider the case of Bob Menendez, Democratic senator from New Jersey who has introduced a new anti-Iran bill in the Senate. He paid $250,000 to a Washington law firm for legal costs related to investigations into his ties to a major donor.
Menendez is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and according to disclosure forms on January 31, he paid $11,250 to his close friend and major donor Dr. Salomon Melgen for a flight he took on Melgen’s private plane.
More than a year ago, the FBI launched an inquiry into Menendez’s repeated trips to the Dominican Republic with Melgen. Soon thereafter, they also raided the West Palm Beach offices of Melgen in Florida.
There have been reports on various websites (the conservative Daily Caller website, for instance) that Melgen had paid for Menendez to take trips to the Dominican Republican and even arranged prostitutes for him.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW), a watchdog group in Washington, has put Menendez on the list of 13 most corrupt members of Congress due to his ties to Melgen. That is quite a feat for a senator who is all gung-ho about imposing more sanctions on Iran because he thinks he can win brownie points by presenting himself as being more “patriotic” than others.
Being belligerent and waving the flag is considered a sure winner even if behind the flag, you indulge in all kinds of unsavory conduct. In fact, belligerent rhetoric is part of the camouflage to divert attention away from one’s own despicable conduct.
While Menendez has repeatedly denied allegations that he had engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, his office paid Melgen $58,500 for several flights aboard his benefactor’s plane, the biggest contributor to his political campaign.
He is also under criminal investigation for ties to two Florida businessmen who are fugitives from Ecuador. According to WNBC, the US Justice Department is investigating whether Menendez intervened with Homeland Security and the State Department to help brothers William and Roberto Isaias, who are wanted in Ecuador for embezzlement, to escape extradition.