A prominent United States senator who was charged with corruption this past month was struck with a new accusation this week: he is accused of serving as an unregistered Egyptian agent.
In response to accusations that he operated as an agent for Egyptian authorities in return for payments, 69-year-old Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Panel, currently has “temporarily” stepped down from his position. He has refused to resign.
An Egyptian-American entrepreneur, Wael Hana, and Menendez, together with his 56-year-old wife Nadine, were charged with violating the Foreign Agent Registrations Act by not registering with the US government, according to a superseding indictment filed by prosecutors this week.
The Democratic lawmaker from New Jersey, Menendez, is accused of taking bribes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, such as gold bars and a Mercedes Benz, from 2018 to 2022 in return for using his power to help the Egyptian government.
According to the charges, Menendez “engaged in a sequence of actions on behalf of Egypt, encompassing the military and intelligence officers of Egypt, and coordinated to carry out these actions with Hana and his spouse.”
The veteran lawmaker from New Jersey was charged with corruption for the second time in eight years. The case puts at risk his seat in Congress as well as the Democratic Party’s narrow control in the Senate.
The Democrats only have a 51–49 lead in the Senate going into the 2024 elections.
Prosecutors claimed they discovered more than $500,000 in cash in Menendez’s house in New Jersey and also in the safe deposit box of his wife. The cash was supposedly sent by three entrepreneurs from New Jersey who wanted his help.
The charge sheet said that Menendez accepted the money to help three businessmen—Hana included—stay out of trouble with the Justice Department and additionally to help Hana with a business monopoly that the Egyptian government gave him.
Two accusations of bribery and fraud were brought against Menendez, his wife, Hana, and each of the other two entrepreneurs, Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes. Extortion charges were also brought against Menendez and his spouse.
Up to 20 years in jail are possible if found guilty of the worst crimes.
Menendez has been a constant for the Democrats in Congress for 30 years. He has been a senator since 2006 and served as a member of the US House of Representatives for a period of 14 years.
He was charged in 2015 with taking bribes like private planes, expensive holidays, and more than $750,000 in illegal campaign payments.
A jury that could not agree on a decision threw out the charges three years later.