Bhalla hits Rep. Menendez over $250k ad buy from SBF PAC, Menendez returns fire


Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla hit U.S. Rep Rob Menendez over a $250,000 ad buy from a super PAC run by Samuel Bankman-Fried in 2022, with the incumbent returning fire over a 2009 case where Bhalla represented a woman who admitted to a $15 million Ponzi scheme.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla (left) and U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8) could run against each other for Congress next year. Facebook photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Bankman-Fried, who received a 25-year prison sentence for fraud on Thursday, donated millions to mostly Democratic candidates in 2022 through his Protect Our Future PAC.

His expenditures included spending $250,000; $235,000 for a digital ad buy and $15,000 for the said production of the ad; on Menendez on May 31st, a week before he became the Democratic nominee in the 8th congressional district with over 83 percent of the vote.

“This was a blatant attempt to influence his father Senator Bob Menendez’s actions on the Senate Banking Committee and Rob Menendez Jr. was happy to reap the benefits and say nothing,” Ravi Bhalla for Congress spokesman Rob Horowitz said in a statement.

“We now know that Rob Menendez Jr. likely benefited from money stolen from investors.”

Horowitz also asserted that the quart of a million dollars was spent on Menendez to curry favor with his father, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).

The elder Menendez, now facing a litany of federal corruption charges, then served as chair of the U.S. Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, and as a senior member of the Banking Committee.

This committee was looking into cryptocurrencies during this time period. FTX, a global cryptocurrency exchange Bankman-Fried co-founded and served as CEO, ended up causing $8 billion in losses for his customers.

He was convicted of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering at trial last year.

Furthermore, Horowitz said that PACs and lobbyists comprised of more than half of the approximately $348,000 he raised for the 4th quarter of 2024.

“It is time for Rob Menendez Jr. to declare his independence from the special interests that have fueled his political career. I call on him today to join me in taking no corporate PAC contributions,” Bhalla added.

Menendez appeared eager to counter punch, calling his June 4th primary opponent desperate before pointing out when he represented Marcia Sladich, a Clifton woman who pleaded guilty to a running an elaborate Ponzi scheme on July 30th, 2009.

“Here’s another example of Desperate Ravi grasping at straws. This was an independent expenditure that our campaign had no control over. And while Ravi makes some bold claims, our campaign deals in facts,” Menendez said in response.

“Like, in addition to the fact that his law license was suspended for unethical behavior, Ravi Bhalla represented the head of a Ponzi scheme who stole $15 million from her fellow church members, putting many in financial ruin and then praising her as an “upstanding member of the community.” We believe the residents of the 8th District would be more interested in hearing Ravi talk about that than his unsubstantiated allegations.”

While Bhalla and Menendez haven’t been shy about throwing haymakers thus far, expect the next two months to feel like the latter rounds of a championship fight in the 8th District congressional race, which also features newcomer Kyle Jasey.

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  1. This is disturbing on many levels. Ravi is attacking the Democrat Party.

    Sam Bankman Fraud was the top donor to the Democrat Party outside of George Soros funded dark money groups. The Democrat Party members who were underwritten by SBF didn’t return most of the money stolen from investors.

    Sure, Ravi may have represented a client running a multi-million dollar ponzi scheme but lawyers get to choose clients who inspire them. That ponzi scheme inspired many campaign fundraising schemes from Hoboken bars to PACs and special interest terror fliers.