There’s a lot that’s gross about politics in the United States. One particularly putrid political place is New Jersey, where governors have closed traffic lanes for revenge and appointed extramarital lovers as top advisors, mayors are active participants in human organs trafficking and state senators fake their own death to avoid prison.
The latest to stand trial for corruption is Bob Menendez, current sitting U.S. Senator from the Garden State.
Menendez was indicted over two years ago for corruption charges stemming from his relationship with a doctor named Salomon Melgen. The charges allege that Menendez, as soon as he entered office as a senator, began taking “gifts” from Melgen in the form of private trips to the Dominican Republic paid for by Melgen. In exchange, Menendez secured visas for Melgen’s many girlfriends and asked Harry Reid to help him (Melgen) settle a Medicare payment dispute. Melgen was later found guilty of defrauding Medicare for over $100 million dollars.
There is absolutely no excuse why Menendez did not resign immediately following the indictment. This type of behavior and association from a public official is inexcusable and a symptom of the cancer upon our society that is money in politics.
I don’t care for the excuse that Menendez is the “last line of defense” against a known white-supremacist agenda. If Democrats were truly concerned about that, they would’ve had him resign in 2015 and then held another election for his post in 2016. I don’t care if you’re Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders. If you’re under investigation for a crime, get out of politics.
Until we end the flow of private money to politicians, this problem will persist. Our elections should ban private contributions, publicly fund campaigns at a cap with taxpayer money and ban all gifts.
Public service in politics should mean putting policy first and rejecting any influences of monetary value. The more we can do to take it there, the better.