Amid bribery charges, N.J. Sen. Bob Menendez says he won't run in Democratic primary

Sen. Bob Menendez, R-N.J., said Thursday that he will not run for re-election as a Democrat. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Sen. Bob Menendez, R-N.J., said Thursday that he will not run for re-election as a Democrat. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

March 21 (UPI) -- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said Thursday he will not run for re-election in the Democratic primary for his seat, but he did not rule out the possibility of running as an independent candidate.

"I will not file for the Democratic primary this June," Menendez said. "I am hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election," Menendez, who is facing bribery and obstruction of justice charges, said in a video posted online.


During his video, Menendez reminded viewers of his legislative track record but later acknowledged that many of his constituents are frustrated with him.

Menendez had faced calls to resign, including from a number of his Senate Democratic colleagues, as a result of the charges.

Menendez allegedly took steps to benefit the governments of Egypt and Qatar and help several New Jersey businessmen in exchange for gold bars, cash, a luxury car and Formula One Grand Prix race tickets, authorities say.

Menendez has repeatedly denied the charges, arguing that he is being persecuted by prosecutors. He said he will prove his innocence.


He stepped down as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year when he was initially charged but has rejected calls to resign his Senate seat.

"They would deny me due process and undermine the fundamental principle of our law, that in America, you are innocent until proven otherwise by a jury of your peers," Menendez said in a floor speech.

This is not the first time that Menendez, who has served in the Senate since 2006, has faced legal troubles.

He was charged in 2015 with conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud relating to allegedly abusing the power of his office.

Prosecutors said then that the senator accepted more than $600,000 in political contributions, a luxurious hotel suite at the Park Hyatt in Paris, and free rides on a private jet from a wealthy ophthalmologist, Dr. Salomon Melgen, in exchange for political favors.

That case first resulted in a mistrial and then a judge acquitted Menendez on some of the charges. Eventually, the rest of the charges were dropped, too.

Latest Headlines