Is time finally up for the Senate's "golden" boy -- and his wife?

(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Robert Menendez has had almost as many political obituaries as Donald Trump — if not more. He has managed to work his way out of multiple investigations for corruption, and always seems to emerge stronger. But do federal prosecutors have the goods on the Senator from New Jersey now? NBC News seems to think so:


Federal prosecutors are looking into whether an admitted felon helped arrange to give gold bars worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez or his wife in exchange for help, sources familiar with the matter tell News 4.

Investigators want to know if Menendez offered to contact the Justice Department to try to help that man who was accused of banking crimes. Those questions are now before a federal grand jury in Manhattan that is considering whether to hand up corruption charges against the senior senator from New Jersey.

Sources say witnesses are now testifying before that federal grand jury. Part of the investigation centers on the senator’s ties to Fred Daibes, a New Jersey developer and one-time bank chairman. Officials with the FBI and IRS Criminal Investigation want to know if Daibes or his associates gave gold bars to the senator’s wife, Nadine Arslanian — gold bars worth as much as $400,000.

It’s not the first dance with the feds for Menendez, but this time it also involves his wife. The rumors about Arslanian’s activities began a month ago, when the New York Post first reported that the feds had started looking into the sale of 13 pounds of pure gold in 2022. The largess looked suspicious, as Asrlanian had been on the edge of bankruptcy prior to marrying Menendez in 2020:

Nadine Arslanian, 56, sold the gold between April 7, 2022, and June 16, 2022, according to the senator’s annual public disclosures. It is equivalent to as much as 13 pounds of pure gold.

The sale was a remarkable financial turnaround for Arslanian, who had reportedly been struggling financially, even facing foreclosure on her home, before she married Menendez in 2020.


Where did she get the gold bars? Menendez had failed to note their existence in his required Senate financial disclosures until just prior to their first sale. The new filings still didn’t explain where or how she obtained the gold, which looks pretty suspicious considering the pending foreclosure on her home in 2019, five years after using a federal program to work her monthly payments to a lower level. However, at the same time that the foreclosure started, Arslanian made a curious move, with an assist from her then-fiancé’s friend:

Just as the foreclosure began, Arslanian founded her own consulting business — Strategic International Business Consultants LLC — which is run out of her home address.

The company has no online footprint, and it’s not clear who its clients are. Its incorporation was handled by longtime Menendez friend Donald Scarinci.

Hmmmm. Did Arslanian use this consultancy as a cover for bribes intended for Menendez in exchange for official actions? Like Biden Inc, it’s tough to see what goods or services Arslanian could have offered other than access, especially for payment in gold bars rather than traditional currency-based (and traceable) payments. The specific suspicion is that New Jersey developer Fred Daibes or his associates gave the gold to Arslanian in exchange for lenient treatment by another Menendez friend, US Attorney Philip Sellinger, who had been a campaign fundraiser for Menendez prior to his appointment to that position. Sellinger and Daibes both deny this, but Daibes’ sentencing keeps getting postponed, and that in itself seems rather interesting, given the existence of this probe.


And that’s not the only gift that has the feds curious about Arslanian and Menendez:

As News 4 first reported, officials are also looking into whether Menendez or his now wife improperly took gifts, including use of a Mercedes and a luxury D.C. apartment from the owners of a New Jersey business. That business, IS EG Halal, won an exclusive contract with the Egyptian government to perform all Halal meat inspection for the county, even though the firm had no prior experience.

Investigators want to know if Menendez used his position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which oversees billions in aid to Egypt, to help that New Jersey firm get the contract in exchange for gifts.

It all appears very swampy, to say the least, but swampy doesn’t necessarily mean a provable case for corruption and bribery. That takes an explicit quid pro quo, as Menendez himself knows from personal experience, and that’s not an easy case to make. The Supreme Court made it tougher in the McDonnell case too, as federal prosecutors surely understand. That may be why “sources familiar with the matter” are leaking this to the media — they may be hoping to get some direct testimony of bribery by ramping up the public pressure on everyone associated with Menendez and Arslanian.

Good luck with that. Menendez has managed to escape their clutches for years, despite his odious behavior. It doesn’t matter that we know Menendez is corrupt, after all — it only matters that prosecutors can prove it in court. This time, maybe they can succeed, but I’m not betting my gold bars on that outcome just yet.  If Menendez changes his name to Biden, though, I may rethink his peril …


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