If Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey, was sponsoring legislation castigating the Cuban government, the Miami Herald would print it on its front page — even if the law had little chance of passing, not even in committee. When Sen. Menendez joins Marco Rubio in calling Venezuela a narco state, the Herald’s all over it, and you’re sure to see it prominently in the newspaper. And the times Sen. Menendez has visited Miami in the past during a round of fundraising among friends from south Florida, the Herald’s there, photographer in tow.
On Wednesday (Sept. 6), Menendez starts trial on corruption charges in a Newark, New Jersey courtroom. He is accused of helping friend and co-defendant Salomon Melgen, the south Florida ophthalmologist who earlier this year was found guilty, in a separate case, of overcharging the federal government millions of dollars for Medicare payments.
As reported by Politico, “Prosecutors contend that the New Jersey Democrat intervened with federal authorities to get visas for three of Melgen’s girlfriends, to head off U.S. actions that would have disrupted a port security contract [with] one of Melgen’s companies held in the Dominican Republic and to aid Melgen in a multimillion-dollar billing dispute with Medicare.”
In exchange, according to the Department of Justice, Menendez accepted gifts and donations from the doctor in excess of a million dollars.
Menendez has hired high-priced defense attorney Abbe Lowell, a fixture in criminal cases involving high-profile Washington politicians. In the same Politico piece they describe Lowell’s challenge as one of “dismantling federal prosecutors’ claims of a quid pro quo.
“The Latin phrase neatly captures the prosecution’s allegation that more than $750,000 in political donations given by wealthy ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen — and a slew of private jet flights, luxury hotel stays and other gifts — amounted to bribes delivered in exchange for Menendez’s help.”
Serious stuff. For reasons NOT strange to us, the Miami Herald has downplayed the trial. And in the Sunday newspaper, as I write this piece, not a word was printed regarding the highly-charged court case.
In honor of the truth, in the past few weeks the Herald has published what amounts to blurbs in its digital edition that have appeared in the newspaper.
But as I’ve written, this is a highly-charged trial. One being covered by all the major newspapers across the country.
And there’s more to the Menendez trial than a high ranking Democratic senator charged with corruption.
A conviction could lead to Menendez’ ouster from the Senate — although this is not automatic and could lead to an interesting political battle. Still, if he is ousted, it would be New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who would be charged with replacing him until the 2018 elections.
At one time not too long ago I would have said get rid of Menendez, who cares. The Republican cannot be worse, I would probably exclaim, especially when it comes to the Cuba issue.
But there’s more at stake. The Senate without Menendez would mean one less Democrat. And one more Republican vote, if the recent repeal-Obamacare-vote was to surface again, might mean a victory for President Trump and other Republican leaders who want to replace the health care law with one that would leave more than 20 million Americans without health care insurance. Remember they were just one vote shy of doing just that in July.
So I would deduce that the Bob Menendez trial is terribly important. And the result could end up affecting millions of Americans throughout the U.S.
And yet, the Miami Herald seems to be ignoring the Menendez trial that begins this week.
[For other articles on this case in Progreso Weekly, click here.]