By Matt Rooney
Politics is, at its core, the art of persuasion. “Spin” is to be expected. But some claims are simply so beyond the pale — so outside the realm of truth, and context, and just plain old decency — that someone needs to say something.
Let’s talk about one of the two new Bob Menendez television campaigns ads, titled “Stopped,” in which Menendez claims to have defended Social Security and Medicare while insisting that his challenger (Republican Bob Hugin) ripped off taxpaying cancer patients.
It’s a sick joke, Save Jerseyans. There’s no other way to describe it.
Bob Hugin has never been (1) indicted for accepting bribes, (2) reprimanded by an ethics committee or (3) told to repay $1 million in improperly received gifts.
Bob Menendez has. All three of them!
And the reason all three happened to Bob Menendez: he played the role of government insider and fixer for his friend and donor Salomon Melgen who was recently sentenced to years behind bars for… Medicare fraud. To be precise, Melgen’s fraudulent behavior bought him a 17-year sentence and a restitution order for $42.6 million.
But the word “fraud” doesn’t convey the insidiousness of it all. Not even close! We’re not talking about a basic credit card scam. Melgen’s barbaric scheme involved tricking elderly patients into macular degeneration treatments which weren’t medically necessary; he would then charge Medicare (you and me and everyone else who pays taxes) for pricey drugs.
Some of these seniors were left permanently blind. Meanwhile, Melgen used his ill-gotten gains to fly Menendez to exotic destinations on a private jet. Had ‘Medicare for All’ (the Democrats’ current obsession) been law when this scheme was still active? The human toll would’ve been even more unthinkable.
FYI – Menendez was an ACTIVE enabler of Melgen; in testimony at his trial, it was confirmed that Menendez USED HIS TAXPAYER-FUNDED OFFICE in an attempt to intercede on Melgen’s behalf with the federal government, defending his fraudulent billing practices. Here’s what the Senate’s ethics body had to say in its post-trial ‘severe’ admonition of Senator Menendez:
“[…] the Committee is aware that you have described Dr. Melgen as your closest friend and ‘brother,’” the Committee’s letter elaborated, “but this makes your assistance to him no less troubling. Your Senate office and its attendant resources and power are not personal to you. Senators must closely guard against even the appearance that their families or friends are entitled to use these resources and power for their own personal gain.”
So yeah, folks, this latest Menendez Medicare ad isn’t garden variety spin or hardball politics which we’d expect to see in October.
This is the pot calling the kettle black on steroids, times a million, and if the pot in question happened to be a truly evil, remorseless S.O.B. Remember: Menendez never apologized to Melgen’s victims, expressing only how he felt ‘saddened for his longtime friend.’
People were hurt. Lives were ruined. Millions of taxpayer dollars were stolen. All because Bob Menendez put a donor’s criminal scheme ahead of some of our country’s most vulnerable citizens.
Like I said: beyond the pale.
MATT ROONEY is the founder and “blogger-in-chief” of SaveJersey.com, a conservative commentator on television and radio, and a practicing New Jersey attorney.