Daily Kos is proud to call on New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez to resign, and endorse Rep. Andy Kim as his massive upgrade of a replacement.
Personally, I am absolutely livid at Menendez and his clan’s mendacious efforts to weaponize his immigrant background as a shield for corruption, and can’t think of a better outcome than Sen. Andy Kim. And while we’re at it, I’m hoping for a primary challenge to Menendez’s nepo baby congressman son, Rob. It’s time to clear out that endemic corruption from all of Congress.
Mendendez has a history of corruption, as well as a history of evading accountability. As such, it required breathtaking arrogance to engage in a new round of alleged corruption while knowing that the FBI was keeping an eye on him. But we see it time and time again, like with Donald Trump: If people repeatedly get away with criminal behavior, they somehow think they are immune.
By now, you are likely aware of the new indictment alleging behavior so breathtakingly brash, it is unbelievable that Menendez hasn’t already resigned in shame.
The indictment said Menendez used his clout to interfere in three criminal cases, pressured U.S. agriculture regulators to protect an associate’s business interests, and used his position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee to influence U.S. policy on Egypt.
Prosecutors say he met with Egyptian military and intelligence officials, passed along non-public information about employees at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and ghostwrote a letter on behalf of Egypt asking his Senate colleagues to release a hold on $300 million worth of aid.
Federal agents who searched his home in 2022 found more than $480,00 in cash stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets and a safe, and gold bars worth more than $100,000, prosecutors said. Another $70,000 was discovered inside his wife’s safety deposit box, they said.
The indictment states that after a trip to Egypt in October 2021, Menendez literally googled, “How much is one kilo of gold worth?” Now he claims that the $480,000 he stashed in his house was for “emergencies,” and that, “For 30 years, I have withdrawn thousands of dollars in cash from my personal savings account, which I have kept for emergencies and because of the history of my family facing confiscation in Cuba.”
Ah, Cuba. And therein lies the crux of Menendez’s defense. You see, he is supposedly being targeted because he comes from an immigrant family. His son, first-term Rep. Rob Menendez, has weaponized his family’s immigrant heritage to try and justify his father’s history of corruption. “[I]n my life, I have seen countless detractors who refuse to believe a son of immigrants from Hudson County could rise to be one of one hundred and yet he’s constantly proven them wrong,” the younger Menendez said in a statement. “And thankfully those who know him and what he has stood for his entire career outnumber the naysayers.”
Immigrants face enough challenges already. They don’t need this corruption associated with them. It’s gross and unseemly. No one “refuses to believe” that Mendendez could be a senator. He’s been a senator since 2006. Rob himself has ridden the nepotism wave all the way to Congress. To sit there and cry that this federal indictment stems from some kind of persecution because they’re from an immigrant family is absurd. The elder Menendez was born in New York City. How many generations get to claim “I’m a poor downtrodden immigrant” as a shield for their wrongdoing?
Yes, by virtue of his parents, Bob Menendez lived the immigrant experience, but that is utterly irrelevant to him now stashing gold bars in his home as compensation for his alleged corruption.
You know who isn’t using his immigrant experience to justify corruption? Rep. Andy Kim.
Kim is the son of immigrant parents who managed to instill real immigrant values: dedication, hard work, integrity, and service to his nation. He graduated from the University of Chicago and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford (where he met and became friends with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg). Working at the State Department, he was a civilian adviser to Gens. David Petraeus and John R. Allen in Afghanistan before serving on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.
He unseated a Republican in his first run for Congress in 2018 despite a racist onslaught designed to “other” him, as reported by NJ.com:
The ad features a photo of several whole fish on ice with the caption “There’s something Real Fishy about Andy Kim.”
“Real Fishy” and “Andy Kim” are spelled out in a type font a Democratic spokeswoman said is called “Chop Suey,” and is often associated with Chinese food stores or Asian films.
“The GOP’s decision to show images of raw fish and to use this particular red block font, which is actually called ‘Chop Suey’ and has long been used to visually convey Asian heritage, makes it abundantly clear what this mailer is—a shameful racist attack on a qualified and capable public servant,” said Caitlin Mota, a Democratic party spokeswoman.
Despite the typical Republican racism, Kim narrowly beat the Republican incumbent 50-49. Incumbents rarely lose. In 2020 he won reelection 53-45 as President Joe Biden was narrowly losing his seat, an amazing 8-point overperformance. In 2022, in a redrawn district, he won by 12 against a self-funding Republican foe.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Kim went viral for getting on his knees to clean up the post-insurrection Capitol Rotunda. One of those photos appears at the top of this endorsement. NBC News covered the behind-the-scenes of that moment:
When [Kim] finally did walk around the rotunda — his favorite and arguably the most storied room of the building — the disarray left him speechless. Water bottles, broken furniture, tattered Trump flags and pieces of body armor and clothing were strewn on the marble floor as if it were an abandoned parking lot.
“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Kim, 38, told NBC Asian America. “It’s a room that I love so much — it’s the heart of the Capitol, literally the heart of this country. It pained me so much to see it in this kind of condition.”
So for the next hour and a half, he crouched down and filled a half dozen trash bags with debris. When he finished cleaning up the rotunda, he began working on the adjacent rooms, including the National Statuary Hall and the Capitol crypt downstairs.
Then he returned to the House floor to debate Pennsylvania’s vote count, a session that lasted until 3 a.m. By Thursday evening, he’d been awake for more than 36 hours.
Many of you know that I too have lived the immigrant family experience. My father was from Greece, and my mother is from El Salvador. While I was born in Chicago, my family moved to El Salvador early in my life. I didn’t return to the U.S. until I was 9 years old, when we had to flee because of the civil war. My experience was easier than most: I was a U.S. citizen and my parents had legal status, so I didn’t have to worry about anyone in my family being deported. But I spoke little English, was bullied as an outsider, and had to assimilate to an alien culture. All of that was hard enough.
But I also saw my parents work hard to build what they had, and ensure that my brother and I had every possible chance to succeed in life. They sacrificed in ways I didn’t recognize until decades later—like paying for two newspaper subscriptions to satisfy my voracious reading appetite. I did not realize how much of a financial challenge paying for even a single subscription posed for them. And they loved this country like few native-born Americans can appreciate, including the MAGA a-holes performatively humping their American flags (literally so for Trump), thinking it triggers liberals.
That, in a nutshell, is what being an immigrant means: We are here not because we had the privilege to be born American (although I’m an anomaly, and was). We are here because we want to be here, because we appreciate what this country offers, and because we know what the alternative looks like. And that is a two-way relationship: America gives us so much, and we, as immigrants, in turn owe the country the very best of us, including deep appreciation, hard work, and impeccable integrity.
As an immigrant and as a Latino, I am deeply embarrassed by Sen. Bob Menendez. He is a disgrace, and he needs to be gone. The legal process can play out, but we know who and what he is. He doesn’t deserve to be in the Senate. And his nepo baby doesn’t deserve to be in the House.
Kim, on the other hand, shows us the best of what immigration adds to America and is a lovely person to boot.
He is a credit to the House, and he will be a credit to the Senate. I am beyond excited for Daily Kos to endorse him. In a Senate chamber where integrity is often in short supply, Kim will be a treasure.
Join us in championing a leader who truly values service to the nation. Your donation of $5 to Rep. Andy Kim can reshape our Senate.