New Jersey Democrats not panicking about Menendez retrial

Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez is intent on seeking reelection this year despite facing a retrial on federal corruption charges, and New Jersey’s Democratic leaders aren’t trying to stop him.

“Senator Menendez fully expects to be vindicated and has every intention of running for reelection, continuing to fight Donald Trump’s policies on behalf of New Jersey,” Menendez adviser Michael Soliman said in a statement Friday night — hours after the Justice Department announced its intent to retry the senator.

At first glance, it looks like a nightmare scenario for Democrats, who face an already tough map nationally to win control of the Senate. Menendez’s poll numbers took a big hit during last year’s corruption trial, in which he was accused of doing political favors for his friend and co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, in exchange for private jet flights, lavish vacations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign Continue reading “New Jersey Democrats not panicking about Menendez retrial”

Pharma exec with ties to Christie considers running against Menendez

A pharmaceutical executive with deep ties to Gov. Chris Christie is considering a Republican run for Senate against Democrat Bob Menendez.

Celgene Executive Chairman Bob Hugin’s name was first floated by former New Jersey politics blogger and Bridgegate conspirator David Wildstein, who noticed someone had set up a Twitter account under Hugin’s name and that it was quickly followed by the Republican State Committee’s executive director.

POLITICO confirmed that Hugin, a supporter of President Donald Trump, is considering a challenge to Menendez, whose corruption trial ended in a mistrial in November. Menendez, New Jersey’s senior senator, is up for reelection this year and, while he likely faces a contested primary, has already sewn up Democratic organizational support.

The Justice Department has not yet said whether it plans to retry Menendez, who faced bribery allegations for allegedly doing official favors for friend and campaign donor Salomon Melgen. Ten of the 12 Continue reading “Pharma exec with ties to Christie considers running against Menendez”

After questioning Spicer, Democrats want to depose Priebus about election night activities

Fresh from interviewing former White House press secretary Sean Spicer over what he was doing on the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night, Democrats now want to interview former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.

Spicer’s presence that night has caused some unease among Republicans because the expiration of a 35-year-old settlement, or consent decree, barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security operations may depend on it. The fifth floor, POLITICO has reported, was the nerve center of then-candidate Donald Trump’s poll-watching operations.

Spicer, at the time, was the RNC’s communications director and chief strategist.

The Democratic request to interview Priebus may be the last gasp in the party’s quest to keep the consent decree alive.

Spicer said he never saw a sign warning him to keep away from the fifth floor of Trump Tower on election night 2016, even though four Republican sources told POLITICO there Continue reading “After questioning Spicer, Democrats want to depose Priebus about election night activities”

Gottheimer and Lance make last-ditch effort to save SALT deduction

With many New Jersey taxpayers likely to be hit hard by the tax cut bill working its way through Congress, a bipartisan House duo from the Garden State is proposing a “fix.”

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance and Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer announced they’re putting forward a proposal to the House conference committee to save the state and local tax deduction, or SALT, in its entirety, which under the bill would be reduced to $10,000.

“This has been part of the federal code since 1913, the advent of the modern code, and I’m advised that it was even contained in the income tax statute that was passed to fund the Civil War when Abraham Lincoln was president,” Lance said during a press conference and call with reporters.

Lance and Gottheimer both represent well-heeled suburban districts where many homeowners pay well above $10,000 a year in property taxes alone.

New Jersey Continue reading “Gottheimer and Lance make last-ditch effort to save SALT deduction”

Despite mistrial, corruption case took a toll on Menendez poll

Most members of the jury in Sen. Bob Menendez’s corruption trial thought he was not guilty, but Menendez hasn’t been vindicated in the eyes of the New Jersey public.

A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released Thursday found 51 percent of New Jersey voters think the Democratic senator does not deserve to be reelected next year, while half that number — 26 percent — think he deserves reelection.

Menendez’s two-and-a-half monthslong corruption trial ended in a hung jury earlier this month. According to one of the jurors, 10 of them were in favor of acquitting Menendez on most of the 12 counts against him.

The poll also found that Menendez’s approval ratings are upside down, with 29 percent of residents giving him good marks and 36 percent disapproving. Just 20 percent have a favorable impression of him, while 30 percent have an unfavorable one.

But the numbers are not damning for Menendez, Continue reading “Despite mistrial, corruption case took a toll on Menendez poll”

Judge allows DNC to depose Spicer on election night activities

A federal judge said Wednesday that he’ll allow the Democratic National Committee to depose Sean Spicer, the former Republican National Committee communications director and White House spokesman, on whether he violated a 35-year-old consent decree barring the RNC from engaging in ballot security or voter suppression efforts.

But the judge, Michael Vazquez, denied a DNC request for an evidentiary hearing on whether the RNC violated the consent decree.

The consent decree, which originated from RNC actions in New Jersey’s 1981 gubernatorial election, is set to expire on Friday, but its future is uncertain. Vazquez said he’s not yet ready to rule on whether it will expire on Friday.

“I’m going to reserve on the drop dead date of the consent decree and we’ll go from there,” Vazquez, who was nominated to the bench by President Barack Obama, said during a conference call with attorneys for both parties.

Vazquez said that Continue reading “Judge allows DNC to depose Spicer on election night activities”

Christie not surprised by mistrial in Menendez case

MORRIS PLAINS — Gov. Chris Christie said Monday he wasn’t surprised by the failure of the federal government to get a conviction in the corruption case against Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.

“In bribery cases, if you don’t have a narrator and you don’t have tape, they become much more difficult to prove. Not impossible to prove, but much more difficult to prove,” Christie, who was known for prosecuting corruption cases as U.S. attorney for New Jersey from 2002 to 2008, said during a ceremony to name a new road after him.

Monday was the first time Christie has spoken publicly about the Menendez trial since it was declared a mistrial on Thursday.

New Jersey’s senior senator walked out of court last week relieved, but not officially vindicated, after a jury was hung on all the counts against him and his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen.

The Continue reading “Christie not surprised by mistrial in Menendez case”