“The jorts-and-hoodie senator has the only rational anti-corruption position here, while all the fancy-suit senators complaining about dress codes but saying nothing about Menendez now look ridiculous,” said one journalist.
In addition to calling for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez’s resignation over federal bribery charges, Sen. John Fetterman is planning to return $5,000 that the New Jersey Democrat gave to the Pennsylvania Democrat’s 2022 campaign.
“We are in process of returning the money,” Fetterman spokesperson Joe Calvello told The Messenger on Monday, “in envelopes stuffed with $100 bills.”
While a Menendez spokesperson did not respond to the outlet’s request for comment, the embattled senator— who on Friday temporarily stepped down as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee— was defiant on Monday in response to demands for him to resign from the chamber, publicly saying that “not only will I be exonerated, I will still be New Jersey’s senior senator.”
“Think of the ink spilled and beds wet about how John wearing a Dickies shirt and shorts will destroy the decorum of the Senate, but yet no one can muster calling for Menendez to resign.”
Menendez and his wife are accused of accepting bribes in the form of “cash, gold, payments toward a home mortgage, compensation for a low-or-no-show job, a luxury vehicle, and other things of value” in exchange for helping three businessmen and the Egyptian government.
According to the indictment unsealed Friday, federal agents who raided the Menendez home found various pieces of possible evidence, including “over $480,000 in cash— much of it stuffed into envelopes and hidden in clothing, closets, and a safe.”
Fetterman on Saturday was the first senator to join a growing number of House Democrats and Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in calling for Menendez— who is up for reelection next year— to resign now.
Menendez is “entitled to the presumption of innocence under our system,” Fetterman said, “but he is not entitled to continue to wield influence over national policy, especially given the serious and specific nature of the allegations.”
In a series of posts on social media Monday, Calvello noted that “more senators, both Republicans and Democrats, have forcefully denounced how John Fetterman dresses than have called for Menendez to resign for being corrupt.”
As House Republicans have continued to risk a government shutdown in recent days, GOP lawmakers and right-wing pundits have been melting down on social media and cable news over a relaxation of the Senate dress code that they have blamed on Fetterman, known for sporting more casual attire on Capitol Hill.
“This is a perfect snapshot of what is wrong with Washington and why people outside the beltway have no faith in D.C.,” Calvello added. “Think of the ink spilled and beds wet about how John wearing a Dickies shirt and shorts will destroy the decorum of the Senate, but yet no one can muster calling for Menendez to resign.”
The Lever‘s David Sirota declared Monday that “the jorts-and-hoodie senator has the only rational anti-corruption position here, while all the fancy-suit senators complaining about dress codes but saying nothing about Menendez now look ridiculous.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Monday afternoon became just the second senator to urge his indicted colleague to willingly exit the chamber. He simply said that “Sen. Menendez has broken the public trust and should resign from the U.S. Senate.”
Monday night, Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) became the third, saying: “Sen. Menendez is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But the people of New Jersey and the United States Senate are entitled to an effective senator. The shocking and specific allegations against Sen. Menendez have wholly compromised his capacity to be that effective senator. I encourage Sen. Menendez to resign.”
This post has been updated with comment from Sen. Peter Welch.
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