Outside a doctor’s office in Harrison, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) went off on his opponent, “greedy drug company CEO” Bob Hugin (R), who he repeatedly called “a fraud” due to what happened at Celgene under his watch.
“For seniors who rely on Medicare, for the disabled and the poor who rely on Medicaid, to our veterans in the VA health system: Bob Hugin is a fraud. The same Bob Hugin who is trying to defraud New Jersey voters with his false advertising,” Menendez said.
“I’ve met patients, who have been waiting for years, for more affordable versions of expensive prescription drugs, like Revlimid, become available. And yet under Bob Hugin’s watch, Celgene refused to provide samples to generic manufacturers looking to make cheaper alternatives to patients.”
At the presser, which lasted around 30 minutes and included a lengthy question and answer session, the state’s senior senator honed in on the fact that Celgene paid $280 million in July 2017 to resolve fraud allegations made in a federal lawsuit.
While the charge was not a new one, Menendez’s campaign has been citing the settlement, which occurred in U.S. District Court in California, for weeks, the incumbent drove the point home, calling Hugin a “fraud” dozens of times over during the media event.
Menendez also exclaimed that President Donald Trump’s (R) Food and Drug Administration cited Celgene as “the worst company from stopping generic drugs from coming to the market.”
“He gouged cancer patients: the point is, he said ‘I raised the price because I can.’ Because I can. So if you’re willing in the private sector, to pray on the most vulnerable, who need a drug – in most cases to stay alive – what would he do if he was part of the United States Senate?”
As Hudson County View reported, Menendez and Hugin crossed paths at the Hispanic Day Parade which spanned the majority of Bergenline Avenue in North Hudson, and the challenger was eager to tee off on his Democratic adversary.
When asked to respond to claims that he had done very little for the residents of New Jersey and that it was time for a change, Menendez told HCV that it would be nice to see Hugin actually take a stand for the Garden State’s Hispanic population.
“In reality, I’m glad that Bob Hugin, for the first time in his life, showed up at the Hispanic Day Parade: I’ve gone for 40 years. I wish Bob Hugin stood up for the abuses of the Trump administration’s immigration policies,” he began.
“I wish Bob Hugin would speak up about the value and the contributions that the Hispanic Americans have made to our state and to our country when the president defiles them, in generic terms.”
He further stated that his track record includes bringing jobs and transportation dollars to New Jersey, as well as bringing $60 billion to the state for Sandy victims and passing the Autism Cares Act as clear cut examples of fighting for his constituents.
Meanwhile, the challenger went after Menendez on Twitter for his association with Dr. Salomen Melgen – who was sentenced to 17 years in prison after getting convicted on multiple counts of Medicare fraud.
“Dr. Melgen blinded Nikki’s grandfather. @SenatorMenendez abused the power of his office to protect Melgen and leave patients like Nikki’s grandfather in excruciating pain,” he wrote above a new campaign commercial attacking Menendez.
“Corrupt Senators like Bob Menendez need to be held accountable for their actions.”
During the presser, when asked about Hugin’s newest batch of ads referencing Melgen, Menendez was quick to dismiss the claims made by his opponent.
“That’s just an absolute fraud. Anyone who attended the proceeding knows that was not an issue at all. An absolute fraud. Another part of his fraudulent advertising … he’ll probably outspend me 3-to-1, but I’m more strategic,” he stated.
Menendez also said that he expected to have raised over $2 million this quarter and was happy to have done so without having to “gouge cancer patients.”
Hugin campaign spokesman Nick Iacovella called Menendez “a hypocrite and a liar” since his campaign had accepted Celgene money in the past, also noting that the company was never accused of criminal wrongdoing.
“Bob Menendez is a hypocrite and a liar. While President Obama’s Department of Justice investigated Bob Menendez and indicted him for bribery and corruption, there was no action taken against Celgene,” he said in an email
” … As to the lawsuit filed by a disgruntled employee, Celgene settled the case so the company could focus on its core mission of helping patients and finding cures for cancer. Even after the settlement, Bob Menendez took money from Celgene’s PAC because he agrees that the company has had a positive impact on cancer patients.”
Iacovella continued that Menendez “is a corrupt, career politician who has disgraced New Jersey and failed to deliver results.”
When Menendez was asked about accepting donations from Celgene during the Q & A, he responded “It’s interesting: I guess he was for me before he was against me.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated with a statement from the Hugin campaign.