NJ Republican’s Idea to Force Sen. Menendez to Resign
TRENTON — As a defiant New Jersey Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez continues to resist calls from his own party to resign, a major Republican has emerged with a plan to force the indicted elected official to step down.
Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio, R-Warren, announced the idea late Wednesday morning, minutes after Menendez pleaded not guilty in Manhattan’s federal court.
Federal prosecutors unsealed a sweeping indictment on Friday accusing Menendez of taking bribes in cash and gold bars in exchange for using his political influence to help the Egyptian government and do favors for three businessmen. The 69-year-old senator has said he will be exonerated and will remain in office once the case reaches its end.
But DiMaio's method would put Menendez's decision to stay in office up to state lawmakers and New Jersey voters.
NJ Republican's plan to oust Menendez
DiMaio said that there should be a constitutional amendment that would suspend all indicted elected officials in New Jersey until they are either acquitted or convicted. The state GOP leader previously introduced the proposal in 2009 when he was first elected to the Assembly.
He plans to reintroduce the measure in November when the Legislature reconvenes.
"Since he refuses to do the right thing, I feel compelled to have New Jerseyans vote on the best course of action. I think they will join me in supporting a constitutional amendment to remove Menendez from office until he can be cleared or convicted,” DiMaio said.
The temporary suspension would apply to elected officials at all levels of government in New Jersey. If an official gets convicted, their seat will be vacated and filled according to law.
Growing calls from Democrats to resign
Top New Jersey Democrats including Gov. Phil Murphy and fellow Sen. Corey Booker have called on Menendez to resign.
"Senator Menendez fiercely asserts his innocence and it is therefore understandable that he believes stepping down is patently unfair. But I believe this is a mistake," Booker said Tuesday in a statement on X.
Nationwide, at least 25 other Democrats in the U.S. Senate, or more than half, have made the same demand, ABC News reported.
Menendez is expected to address Senate Democrats behind closed doors on Thursday.