Hudson County Democratic Organization Chair Anthony Vainieri says that it’s up to U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) to decide if he can effectively govern despite dozens of elected leaders calling for him to resign after he was indicted last week.
Vainieri, who told Politico last week that Menendez, a former Union City mayor and HCDO chair, is “a rock star in Hudson County, reiterated his point that the local Democratic party will remain neutral.
He added that the past week has been “a painful, difficult time” for the family and friends of Menendez, as well as the fellow elected leaders and constituents in Hudson County.
“ … In an effort to give Senator Menendez an opportunity to speak out on these troublesome accusations, and in recognition of his five decades of service during which the Senator has consistently delivered for our residents, the Hudson County Democratic Organization has not commented on the indictment against him and has declined to either join calls for his resignation or offer support,” Vainieri explained.
“Senator Menendez will have to make his own choice on whether or not he can continue to effectively carry out the duties of his office while working to clear his name, and I trust that he will come to a resolution that is right for the people of New Jersey. I understand the opinion of Democratic leaders from throughout the state and the nation who have weighed in thus far on that important question.”
He concluded by stating that the HCDO will remain focused on the state, county, and municipal elections in the November 7th general elections, further stating “we cannot ignore the new political reality that this indictment has caused.”
For the time being, few Hudson County electeds have spoken out against the three-count federal indictment against New Jersey’s senior senator.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is mulling a primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Rob Menendez (D-8), the senator’s son, has asked for the former to resign, as has 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor thus far and a longtime political adversary of the senator, has been highly critical of the allegations made by federal prosecutors and expressed enthusiasm about the state moving on.
New Jersey State Democratic Committee Chair LeRoy Jones, also the chair of the Essex County Dems, Bergen County Democratic Organization Chair Paul Juliano, Middlesex County Democratic Organization Chair Kevin McCabe, and Passaic County Democratic Chair John Currie are among those asking Senator Menendez to step down.
Bob Menendez and his wife are facing charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit honest services fraud, and conspiracy to commit extortion under color and official right.
They are accused of having a “corrupt relationship” with New Jersey businessmen Wael Hana, Jose Uribe, and Fred Daibes. Those three are charged with the first two counts.
Bob Menendez is also accused of trading government secrets with the country of Egypt to help secure a U.S. Department of Agriculture contract with Hana’s halal meat company.