Robert Menendez Broke the ‘Goldilocks Rule’ of Corruption

Below is my column in The Hill on the indictment of Senator Robert Menendez for bribery, again. As predicted in this column, his colleagues are now expressing disgust at his corruption. However, make no mistake about it, Menendez is not being abandoned due to his corrupt inclination but his conspicuous consumption.

Here is the column:

The massive indictment of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and his wife has shaken Washington.

As Senate Foreign Relations chairman, Menendez is one of the most powerful Democratic members of Congress, and someone who has long been a kingmaker in the party. He has also long been accused of open and insatiable corruption.

What made Menendez a standout in Washington was not his corrupt inclinations, but his utter audacity in following them. I was able to witness that signature conduct personally on the floor of the Senate.

In 2010, I defended a federal judge, Thomas Porteous, in his impeachment trial, against charges that he had taken gifts and misused his office for personal gain. The curious thing about Senate trials is that you have a jury composed of people you could strike for cause in a real court. Menendez was among those sitting in judgment of Porteous, but he wasn’t just another face in the Senate crowd — he stood out. It was like arguing a piracy case with Captain Jack Sparrow sitting on the jury.

Menendez himself would later go on trial in 2017 in a major bribery and fraud case involving luxury gifts allegedly exchanged for official favors. Most of us expected the worst when, during jury deliberations, one juror asked the court, “What is a senator?” Menendez dodged the bullet. The jury hung and the Justice Department dropped all charges.

Now Menendez has been slapped with a massive new bribery indictment. The facts are all too familiar, with a long list of lavish gifts allegedly made in exchange for favors.

The indictment details gold bars, hundreds of thousands of dollars, furnishings and other gifts.  His wife was allegedly actively involved in this corruption conspiracy and is also facing criminal charges.

During the Porteous trial, I noted that, at the time of the underlying acts, the senators themselves were accepting free lunches. It was not until later that the rules changed on such gifts. Menendez now stands accused of accepting a host of gifts at that time, including an $8,000 free flight in October 2010, in addition to luxury trips to Paris and a Caribbean villa.

Yet Menendez still demanded the conviction of Porteous, even though the judge was never charged with bribery, and free lunches and the other gifts would not be enough to even register with Menendez.

The question is whether this level of corruption is now enough for Democrats. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recently suggested a type of Goldilocks rule for corruption. He warned that people in Washington had better be careful if they want to crack down on the Biden family’s influence-peddling.

“If that’s the new criteria, there are a lot of folks in a lot of industries — not just in politics — where people have family members and relationships and they’re trying to parlay and get a little influence and benefit in that respect. That’s hardly unique.”

It would appear that the question is not corruption, but when a little corruption is “just right.”

If these allegations against Menendez are proven, then he violated Washington’s Goldilocks rule. It would mean that Menendez pursued gifts with a reckless abandon, endangering others whose corruption was more circumspect.

Consider the timeline: It would mean that during the Porteous trial, Menendez was allegedly accepting gifts while condemning and removing from office a judge accused of receiving gifts.

Later, after the jury hung in his first corruption trial, Menendez (according to the Justice Department) almost immediately started taking gifts from new sources.

In a town known for a certain finesse in influence peddling, Menendez broke with industry custom by allegedly accepting direct items like gold and a car. This is classic bribery stuff. There was no labyrinth of shell companies and accounts — just crude old-school corruption, with cash stuffed in clothing and gold bars squirreled away for a rainy day.

Where corrupt figures often refer to getting their beaks wet, Menendez allegedly took a headlong plunge into this pool of corruption. This city has not seen such low-grade alleged bribery since former U.S. Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) was found with $90,000 wrapped like a po boy in his freezer.

Like Jefferson, Menendez will need to be isolated as a pariah for his conspicuous consumption. Yet the public is still being played for chumps. This entire city floats on a sea of corruption as family members and associates sell influence and access to high-ranking officials. Menendez is notorious only for the size of his appetite and the extent of his audacity.

Newsom’s Goldilocks rule for graft is certainly compelling for many in this city. For most of us, it is the very source of the problem as politicians seek to get corruption “just right.”

So get ready for politicians to suddenly declare themselves “shocked, shocked” by the allegations against Menendez. These are the same people who made Menendez the head of the Foreign Relations Committee, twice. They gave him the power of leverage with countries where bribery is an accepted practice. It was like making a known arsonist the CEO of the International Paper Corporation.

In the end, the problem is not Menendez. It is the array of other politicians who enabled him while dismissing his reputation for corruption. To use Newsom’s words, Menendez is “hardly unique” for cashing in on his position. That is precisely the problem.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University.

295 thoughts on “Robert Menendez Broke the ‘Goldilocks Rule’ of Corruption”

  1. ” Robert Menendez broke the ‘Goldilocks Rule of courruption.”

    He didn’t pay off Biden and the left.

  2. If you can’t discern anything in the windows after clicking on the image, you either need glasses or you need to have your glasses prescription updated.

  3. One of the comments triggered a thought.

    In agriculture farmers pre pay for crop inputs in December or January.. 1 to get the lowest possible price. 2 be able to shift the expense between the present year or the next year

    One year the Boss decided to price all the products at inseason prices. About 10 to 20% higher. If they would commit and sign the purchase contract, he would rebate to the farmer, Kruggerands or Silver bars. He even hired an armored car and armed gaurds to the grand kickoff of prepay season.

    Of course this had the added benefit of the farmers being able to deduct the full value on their taxes, and pocketing the gold.

  4. Crooked Menendez claims he’s been ‘saving’ this money all his career from his earnings. Then the serial numbers on the bills should indicate the progression of years, & no later than, in which the money was withdrawn. Bet they don’t.

    1. This is not just the Biden administration. Congress made the funds available and Republicans voted for it in large numbers.

  5. I just logged in and while going over som of the comments I see that Dennis McIntyre writes that the people in the widow of the cottage that Goldilocks is running from are black people. If you enlarge the illustration you san plainly see that they are not black people but brown bears. While Dennis is turning over all the rocks he finds racism. Don’t trust me, look for yourself, but more importantly do not ever trust anything that Dennis McIntyre says.

    1. Yep, it’s critical race studies garbage, same as he always spews. Dennis’s contribution to this blog is: all garbage, all the time.

    2. I can discern nothing when I enlarge the illustration with Goldilocks, other than a couple of second-story reddish-brown slotches, which I assume are the alleged bears to which you refer.

      On the other hand, in the second illustration I’m struck by the fact that there’s a spoon on the floor and that Poppa Bear tucks his pants into his boots. I’m sure there must be some mysterious hidden meaning incorporated therein, if only Dennis would employ his x-ray analytical powers (emphasis on “anal”) to explain it. Could it be another clue that Paul McCartney is dead, such as the clearly-articulated “I buried Paul” when you jump in the time machine, head back to 1967, and listen carefully to the end of Stawberry Fields? Curious that the album cover is of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (if that’s what you WANT to see).

      1. If you can’t discern anything in the windows after clicking on the image, you either need glasses or you need to have your glasses prescription updated.

        1. Until this disgraceful garbage site prevents you from posting comments as both “Anonymous” and the other fake identity you employ to post absolute crap, it’s the site that is crap.

  6. They. Are. All. Corrupt – in one way or another. It’s what absolute power does. It’s what it always does. If there is one epitaph to write above mankind’s grave, it’s these few words. It’s the fundational belief of the Christian faith and it seems proven hourly.

    “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.” “Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”
    ~Lord Acton writes to Bishop Creighton (1187)

    1. All the more that Catholics and Christians, but especially Catholics who know better, should heed the counsel of Saint Augustine on the subject of the lost and insolent sheep

      The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. In one way or another, we go on living between the hands of robbers and the teeth of raging wolves, and in light of these present dangers we ask your prayers. The sheep moreover are insolent. The shepherd seeks out the straying sheep, but because they have wandered away and are lost they say that they are not ours. “ Why do you want us? Why do you seek us?” they ask, as if their straying and being lost were not the very reason for our wanting them and seeking them out. “If I am straying,” he says, “if I am lost, why do you want me?” You are straying, that is why I wish to recall you. You have been lost, I wish to find you. “But I wish to stray,” he says: “I wish to be lost.”

      So you wish to stray and be lost? How much better that I do not also wish this. Certainly, I dare say, I am unwelcome. But I listen to the Apostle who says: Preach the word; insist upon it, welcome and unwelcome. Welcome to whom? Unwelcome to whom? By all means welcome to those who desire it; unwelcome to those who do not. However unwelcome, I dare to say: “You wish to stray, you wish to be lost; but I do not want this.” For the one whom I fear does not wish this. And should I wish it, consider his words of reproach: The straying sheep you have not recalled; the lost sheep you have not sought. Shall I fear you rather than him? Remember, we must all present ourselves before the judgement seat of Christ.

      I shall recall the straying; I shall seek the lost. Whether they wish it or not, I shall do it. And should the brambles of the forests tear at me when I seek them, I shall force myself through all straits; I shall put down all hedges. So far as the God whom I fear grants me the strength, I shall search everywhere. I shall recall the straying; I shall seek after those on the verge of being lost. If you do not want me to suffer, do not stray, do not become lost. It is enough that I lament your straying and loss. No, I fear that in neglecting you, I shall also kill what is strong. Consider the passage that follows: And what was strong you have destroyed. Should I neglect the straying and lost, the strong one will also take delight in straying and in being lost.

      From a sermon On Pastors by Saint Augustine, bishop
      (Sermo 46,14-15: CCL 41, 541-542)
      Office of the Readings, 2nd Reading, Monday, XXV Week in Ordinary Time

    2. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

      – Declaration of Independence, 1776

    3. It became ramped up during the Obama 8 years. Remember, no one would be prosecuted? Corruption is now on STEROIDS, just in case you missed it.

  7. Last time I counted (a few minutes ago), there were 69 comments and/or replies out of 198 posted to this article attributed to “Anonymous,” with no way of telling how many were from different people or from the SAME person or how many were from someone posting some comments as “Anonymous” while posting other comments under a different screen name.
    I shouldn’t have to explain how bogus this is or WHY.

  8. It would be marvelous to have Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) interview Senator Menendez even if she is on the House side of Congress. Rep Hageman is how all Members of Congress should be: pitbull with lipstick


  9. Speaking Of Rogue Politicians:

    Trump Threatens Mainstream Media


    They are almost all dishonest and corrupt, but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its “Country Threatening Treason.” Their endless coverage of the now fully debunked SCAM known as Russia, Russia, Russia, and much else, is one big Campaign Contribution to the Radical Left Democrat Party. I say up front, openly, and proudly, that when I WIN the Presidency of the United States, they and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things, and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy and are, in fact, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE! The Fake News Media should pay a big price for what they have done to our once great Country!

    From Truth Social Media, Sunday, September 24

    Here we have a former president, who hopes to be president again, promising a major purge to harass and intimidate any media source he deems ‘unfair’.

    This threat should worry those in the ‘free speech community’. Yet Johnathan Turley has yet to mention it. Which goes to show that Turley is only concerned about ‘free speech for conservatives’.

    1. It’s also strange that he hasn’t commented on the gag order in the CO case about Trump being removed from the ballot.

    2. “a major purge to harass and intimidate any media source he deems ‘unfair’.” This phrase is misleading. Donald Trump would have no power to “purge” anyone who was not part of the executive branch. He might trry to “harass” the MSM if that means saying unpleasant things about them, probably fully deserved. But these are just words, not any harmful actions (like, e.g., prosecuting them publishing classified information). He has not become a Leftist.

  10. It had nothing to do with gold bars, or cash in his jacket, I guess cool to hack on a corrupt guy for that. But the gold is probalby all legal. The buyer would have to have been China and buying our latest weapon system to get a gold bar for it. It sounds more he is a small time Mafia crook that that. Jus ton the hunt for every ten thousand he can get. That way is not guilty of Treason like the Biden Gang, Obamas and Clinton family with their charitys, well, non charitys and selling our weapons advantage to our enemys.

  11. Time for us to apply the “Singapore solution.” Death penalty for taking bribes. It works there. Why not in our nation’s cesspool? I mean capitol.

  12. Today, a confused Trump seemed to think Jeb Bush was president when the US invaded Iraq. He’s only 3 years younger than Biden. Are they both going senile?

    1. Could be worse.
      Biden walked into a flag.
      Ignored and insulted the PM of a country by not shaking his hand.
      Praised the Black party while giving a speech at what was a Hispanic month party.
      At least Trump knows what day of the week it is.

      1. It’s not as though I gave a complete list of all the things that indicate Trump’s in mental decline. Biden also knows what day of the week it is. Presidents need to do more than that.

        1. Trump is clearly not in mental decline. “Joe Biden,” OTOH, has advanced dementia and that becomes more obvious every day. Imagine waking up every day to discover that you’re the POTUS.

          1. No, Trump is very clearly in mental decline. Just this week he said that he won against Obama in 2016 and warned that Biden might lead us into WW2. Compare his current speech to his speech from 15 years ago, and you’ll see that his sentence complexity has diminished, his vocabulary has diminished, his reliance on ambiguous pronouns has increased, he regularly wanders while talking. If you can’t admit it, you’re in denial.

              1. Ask them, not me. Who chooses the physician testing them both? While s/he’s at it, there are plenty of members of Congress who need it.

                  1. Fetterman isn’t showing any signs of dementia, so the kind of test we’re talking about wouldn’t show anything. He still has some stroke-related language processing difficulties, and he and his doctors have been quite forthcoming, so you can read about it if you want.

          2. ” Just this week he said that he won against Obama in 2016″

            Just to set the record straight, I will quote Trump. “We beat Hillary Clinton. “

              1. As usual, Bug screwed up and didn’t realize Trump clearly stated, “We beat Hillary Clinton. “ I don’t know what is wrong with this guy who lacks the abilities seen in normal people. Anyway, his post is gone. He lied by leaving out the operative sentence. He proved himself to be an unreliable commentator that no one could listen to.

            1. He may have said that too, but he said “we did with Obama, we won an election they said that couldn’t be won.”

  13. Succinct and apropos, yet lacking in the judement.

    In the end, the problem is not Menendez. It is…..a thoroughly corrupted federal establishment, with cancerous financial growth accelerated by a fiat monetary system.

  14. Jonathan: I found your column of interest for another reason. You included a reproduction of a painting of Goldilocks running away from the bears’ cottage. It’s a classic depiction seen in many children’s books. A close examination shows the painting was by Jessie Wilcox Smith, a well known illustrator in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her work was feathered in many publications of the era.

    If you look closely at the painting, in the background is the cottage with 3 figures in the window–all Black. That depiction has not been lost on modern scholars of the period. Why? Because Black people were often depicted as a “threat”–and
    Goldilocks, a young white female, was a metaphor for that “threat”. But Goldilocks was the intruder. It was her selfishness–her belief she had the right to eat the food of others, to break their chairs and sleep in their bed–that caused her to flee. But in Smith’s racist depiction Goldilocks is portrayed as the real “victim”.

    Smith’s visual depiction was not uncommon at the time. Black people, who had recently been freed, were depicted as inferior and really not entitled to the protections under the Constitution. They were lynched and their homes burned because they were considered a “threat” to White power.

    When Black people view the Smith painting they come away with an entirely different interpretation. This was apparently lost on you in your allusion to the Goldilocks fable.

    1. If you look closely, they are black bears. Had she used brown bears they would have blended in against the other browns in the painting making it a useless addition

      1. Definitely black bears with round ears in the Goldilocks illustration. Dennis sees crypto-racist intent here. Seems like a paranoid viewpoint. Or is my perception naive, shaped by institutional racism? Can’t believe I’m posting this gobbledygook. It may just be a matter of time until the woke mob bans the story of Goldilocks and orders it removed from children’s bookshelves.

      2. Dennis once again spewing nonsense and demonstrating his racism and ignorance. Why in gods name would the house have black people in it??? Its goldilocks and the THREE BEARS you dunderhead!!

      3. Bravo. In art history class, I said the same thing about the lighting on a Vermeer. After the professor’s long explanation, I said, if the lighting came from the other side, the picture wouldn’t be balanced. I don’t think he was pleased with my answer.

        It’s hard to continue reading minds when you tell an artist what he was thinking, and he says he never thought about that.

    2. “When Black people view the Smith painting they come away with an entirely different interpretation.”

      Are you black?
      Did black people hold a vote to appoint you as the spokesman for what all black people think when they view the painting?
      Where did you first get the idea that all black people think alike?
      I’m guessing that you’re just another white democrat who thinks black people are so inferior that they need for you to articulate theire views for them.

      1. This is the kind of garbage critical race studies endorses. People in its thrall say exceedingly stupid things, and corrupt everything good in the world. Dennis’s little racist screed above is a prime example of what a corrupted mind will twist a fairy tail into.

        A good antidote to this kid of trash is G.K. Chesterton’s book Orthodoxy. He gives a first-rate account of the meaning and value of these kinds of children’s tales.

      2. Dennis thinks black people are too stupid to tell the difference between illustrations of people and those of bears.

    3. You do know that the title of the fairytale is “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, right? Not Goldilocks and the Three Squatters, or Burglars, or Goldilocks Escapes a Drive-By or whatever nonsense you’d like to concoct looking at the illustration. People are over it, give it a rest already.

    4. Dennis has that tunnel visioned channel locked mind, and eyesight, and he don’t/doesn’t see any bears. His hatred for DT and the prof is too deep. Let me ax you dis Dennis, you still see those people?

    5. Dennis – what color hair should the bears have? If it were white, they would be polar bears, who do not live in forests, as fars as I know.

      1. Imagine if the girl were black! Dennis would be screaming about how it was depicting black people as thieves and freeloaders. Because he is a racist.

    6. Is there any reason black people are articularly truggered by depictions of bears? Because that’s all they are.

    7. “But Goldilocks was the intruder.”

      The story is far more racist than that.

      The slave family was eating porridge. And everybody knows that porridge (grits) was a staple slave food. So the deeper meaning of that racist story is: Stay home and tend to your slave food, or Whitey will steal that, too.

      (This is fun. A little psychotic, but fun.)

      P.S. It’s “Willcox,” not “Wilcox.”

    1. thanks UF. As a rule I do not visit websites of the Left, so that they can not make $$$ from my webtraffic. It is surprising politico would write such a headline though I suspect they posted it as bragging points since the Left now embraces nukes, war and DoD.

      1. Estovir,
        The fact it is the Democrats who so endorse WWIII, nuclear Armageddon and the MIC that I find so shocking.
        Then again, the vast majority of them have never served in the military or been in harms way. They always look to the poor and minorities to do the fighting for them, while sitting back at home in safety, virtue signaling their support.
        If anyone should be drafted and sent to the front lines, it is them.

        In the past, I tried to read from both left leaning and right leaning sites to get some degree of facts.
        As I have mentioned more than a few times, NPR was a staple in our household from when I got up at 0-dark-thirty to when Marketplace signed off in the evening.
        Then 2016 and woke activism journalism took over, I rarely list to NPR now called National Pravda Radio.
        The fact Politico did write this article about the corruption of Schiff is somewhat surprising.
        Then again, once in awhile The Atlantic has had a few good articles concerning the corruption of Democrats.

        1. The demoncrats hate the overpopulation of the earth that is causing Greta to have mental issues and a horrible childhood of fear and an early death within the next ten years from the tipping point.
          Isn’t it wise that demoncrats wipe out most of the earth’s population in nuclear armageddon then bask in the afterglow of the nuclear winter ? THAT FIXES GLOBAL WARMING !
          Demoncrats have a winning plan, and no one is going to stop them.

  15. Bob broke the golden rule of don’t stick your head up when a worse (much worse) corruptocrat needs a scapegoat.
    Joe to Bob: What a piker.
    Durbin to Bob: Gawd your dumb, don’t out me.

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