In 1986, 32-year-old lawyer Bob Menendez was elected Mayor of Union City, New Jersey.
In 1988, he was elected to the state legislature.
In 1992, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Now, after 31 years of raking in dough as a politician, Menendez is on trial for corruption.
Prosecutors allege that Menendez took bribes from Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, in exchange for special favors. Among the gifts Melgen gave Menendez were all-expense-paid Caribbean vacations via private jet and $700,000 in campaign cash. Menendez became such a frequent traveler on Melgen’s jet that the Doctor began directing his pilots to stock Evian water, the Senator’s beverage of choice.
Of course, Melgen didn’t lavish Menendez with gifts out of the kindness of his heart. He did it to obtain special access and favors that no ordinary person can get. In exchange for bribes, Menendez provided Melgen with:
influence over immigration so foreign women could visit Melgen in the U.S.
pressure on the State Department to honor an exclusive contract with a company owned by Melgen
pressure on Medicare to end a $9 million dispute in which Melgen, the country’s top recipient of Medicare funds, was suspected of overbilling
This is a classic case of a career politician, unsatisfied with his $174,000 annual salary, trying to live the lifestyles of the rich and famous on taxpayer dime.
What’s more remarkable is that Menendez is no isolated case. The senator who held the seat immediately before him, Jon Corzine, was eventually sued by the federal government for running a financial firm that stole nearly $1 billion of its own customers’ assets.
And before Corzine’s scandal, New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli took bribes including a plasma TV, suits, ties, watches and art statues in exchange for providing favors to his own megadonor.
Remember, these guys all refer to themselves as public servants. But the deeper one digs into Washington’s swamp, the more it becomes clear they are only serving themselves.
According to the Census Bureau, America’s four wealthiest counties are all suburbs of Washington, D.C. While cities like Flint, MI and Johnstown, PA are bleeding jobs, wealth and population, the trough of Washington has grown to its biggest levels yet. Elected officials face more temptation than ever before to put their power up for sale and join the ranks of the elite.
Are you sick and tired of seeing people go to Washington with good intentions but leave in handcuffs?
We must keep up this fight for congressional term limits. By restoring humility to public office, term limits can and will reduce corruption. Join the movement today.
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