Via BuzzFeed, it’s not really a scandal until it’s a sex scandal, right? Menendez has gotten brutal coverage lately over his alleged influence peddling on behalf of Salomon Melgen, but oddly I think he’s kinda sorta benefiting from the fact that the prostitution allegations are out there but haven’t been proved (yet). If the most viscerally sleazy charge against him hasn’t been nailed down, maybe he gets a small benefit of the doubt from constituents on the other Melgen accusations that he otherwise wouldn’t get. Or, absent the lurid sexual angle, maybe most people just aren’t paying attention. Asking low-information voters to follow a complicated story about a senator intervening on behalf of a friend accused of overbilling Medicare is asking a lot; the fact that insider trading by congressmen was perfectly legal until last year is proof enough of how hard it is for the average joe to distinguish what’s criminally crooked in Washington from what’s acceptably crooked according to Beltway (and, er, New Jersey) norms. But a senator taking sex trips to the Dominican Republic? Involving hookers? Who are supposedly underaged? That’s your wake-up call, America. Watch this and file it away mentally, just in case the other shoe is soon to drop.
Exit question: Will it drop? Read Erik Wemple’s post at WaPo for a skeptical take.