Jury had deadlocked in November on corruption charges…
(Daily Caller News Foundation) The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it has filed a motion to dismiss the indictment against Sen. Bob Menendez on corruption charges just two weeks after the government announced plans to retry the New Jersey Democrat, according to the Associated Press.
Menendez and his co-defendant, Dr. Salomon Melgen, were acquitted in mid-January on seven of 18 charges stemming from a questionable relationship, which prosecutors alleged constituted a quid pro quo in which Menendez provided political help in exchange for lavish trips financed by Melgen.
The jury deadlocked in November, prompting the presiding judge to declare a mistrial after Menendez spent years fighting the charges.
The embattled Democrat faced a lengthy indictment featuring 18 charges for bribery, honest services fraud, conspiracy, traveling over state lines to carry out bribery, and making false statements on federally-mandated financial disclosures forms.
The charges emanate from his relationship with Melgen, a wealthy Florida physician who lavished the senator with gifts, vacations, and campaign contributions.
In turn, Menendez intervened with federal agencies on Melgen’s behalf over several years, sure evidence, prosecutors claimed, that the pair had forged a “corrupt pact” to secure their mutual advancement.
The Menendez-Melgen axis is unseemly, but under the Supreme Court’s case law, it isn’t necessarily unlawful.
Menendez’s case closely resembled that of another high profile politician, former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican whose conviction on federal corruption charges reached the Supreme Court in 2016.
Like Menendez, McDonnell accepted gifts and contributions from a donor, to whom he provided significant access to state agencies helpful to his business ventures.
A unanimous Court vacated McDonnell’s conviction, and in so doing, crippled the government’s power to bring criminal cases against corrupt politicians.
At issue in the McDonnell case was the definition of the term “official act” within the meaning of the federal bribery statute.
Under current federal law, a politician uses the power of his office unlawfully when he exchanges an “official act” for some gift or service.
Federal prosecutors have long argued that the term should be construed broadly, encompassing most activities that a politician performs in connection with their public service.
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