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Menendez’s Quieter Corruption

Ryan Cooper: “The sheer comical excess of the Menendez indictment illustrates how rampant political corruption is in this country. The reason people getting nailed by law enforcement for corruption tend to be people with literal gold bars and stacks of cash sewn into their jackets is because of Supreme Court decisions making it impossible to prosecute instances of corruption that are somewhat more deniable.”

“In McDonnell v. U.S., the Court unanimously overturned the conviction of a former Virginia governor and his wife who had set up meetings with officials for a pharmaceutical company while taking valuable gifts from the company’s owner. In FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate, it ruled that candidates can loan their campaigns money, and then pay themselves back with donor cash after the election is over and the victor is known—effectively opening a window labeled ‘bribes here.’ And in Citizens United v. FEC, of course, they legalized effectively limitless corporate spending in politics…”

“So while Menendez was doing the kind of idiotic corruption that actually may have run afoul of the remaining shreds of anti-corruption law, now he is taking advantage of a more subtle variety: spending his campaign money on his legal bills. Should he actually contest the Senate election this year, he is absolutely certain to lose—a recent poll found him with 75 percent disapproval among New Jersey residents—and he’s already given up on seeking re-election as a Democrat. But pretending to be running allows him to spend his remaining campaign funds on his legal defense.”

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