Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Financial Crime: State of corruption: from Bridgegate to gold bars, Menendez joins long list of NJ political scandals

The criminal allegations against New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez are eye-popping on their own, but they come as part of a long litany of political scandals that have rocked the Garden State.  

The indictment unsealed on Friday in federal court in Manhattan, alleges Menendez and his wife took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes — including a pile of gold bars, mortgage payments and a luxury car — to influence criminal investigations into New Jersey businessmen to whom the Senator had ties.

Menendez, who serves as chair of the Senate foreign relations committee, is also charged with providing Egypt with sensitive information about a military aid deal.

In one astonishing allegation, prosecutors say Menendez Googled “how much is one kilo of gold worth?” a day after returning from a trip to Egypt.

Menendez, through his lawyer, has denied any wrongdoing and has vowed to fight the charges. Menendez had previously faced separate corruption charges that he had taken bribes for political favors, but the case ended with a hung jury.

See also: Sen. Menendez of New Jersey and wife indicted on bribery charges as probe finds $100,000 in gold bars, prosecutors say

Menendez is just the latest in a long string of New Jersey politicians who were dogged by wild allegations of corruption and malfeasance in recent years. Here are just a few:


The one-term senator spent his six years in office dogged by a campaign contribution scandal from his 1996 election to replace Bill Bradley. Torricelli was rebuked by the senate’s ethics committee for allegedly taking a Rolex watch, jewelry and big-screen TV set from a campaign donor.

The scandal ultimately caused Torricelli, who was behind in the polls and facing possible defeat with control of the senate at stake, to drop out of his race for reelection in 2002, just weeks before Election Day. He was replaced on the ballot at the last minute by Frank Lautenberg, a former New Jersey senator who came out of retirement at age 78 to fill in. Lautenberg won and remained in the senate for another 10 years until his death in 2013.


A senior partner at Goldman Sachs, Corzine left the banking world for politics in 1999, serving one term as a senator and then one term as New Jersey’s governor. After he was defeated by Chris Christie while seeking reelection to the governor’s mansion, Corzine returned to the world of finance, becoming the CEO and chairman of futures and bond brokerage firm MF Global. In 2011, the firm collapsed with millions in customers’ money evaporating.

In 2013, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed civil charges against Corzine alleging he used client money for corporate purposes. Four years later, Corzine agreed to pay a $5 million fine and was barred from ever working in any job in the commodity futures industry again.


A two-term governor, Christie may always be most associated with the “Bridgegate” scandal. In September 2013, high-ranking officials in the Christie administration ordered the closure of two of three lanes of traffic leading through Fort Lee, N.J. to the George Washington Bridge. The closure, which lasted for five days, caused an immense traffic snarl in the city, and had been done for no apparent reason. But allegations eventually emerged that the road closure had been done as political retribution for Fort Lee’s mayor not supporting Christie’s re-election bid.

Probes into the matter stretched on for years, and charges were never brought against Christie himself, but two of his top aides were eventually convicted in federal court in 2017 of fraud and conspiracy charges. Their convictions were later overturned by the Supreme Court. 


In 2004, halfway through his first term as New Jersey governor, McGreevey stepped down amid a scandal in which he revealed publicly he was gay and had engaged in a relationship with a male aide who had been given high-profile jobs in the government for which he lacked qualifications.

The aide, Golan Cipel, denied that he had had an affair with McGreevey and said he had threatened to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the governor before his resignation. Prior to his leaving office, McGreevey had raised eyebrows when he had named Cipel, an Israeli citizen, to be New Jersey’s homeland security advisor, a job for which he lacked qualifications and was ultimately denied security clearances for because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More