NJ Politics Digest: Menendez May Choose Between Trial and Senate Vote

Bob Menendez Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

Sen. Bob Menendez could face a tough choice next week: be in the courtroom for his high-stakes corruption trial, or be on the Senate floor for a crucial vote on a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to put a bill that would scrap former President Obama’s health law to a vote before Sept. 30. If a vote is scheduled during his trial, a Menendez spokesman told Observer that the senator will “weigh very heavily” whether his absence would make or break the legislation.

Gov. Chris Christie came out against the Senate bill on Wednesday, saying it would rob the state of billions of dollars of federal funding. He said the bill “is too injurious to the people of New Jersey.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors argued Menendez purposely failed to report flights taken on co-defendant Salomon Melgen’s private jet. Prosecutors allege the flights were bribes from Melgen, a wealthy Florida eye doctor who they say wanted the senator’s help securing his own interests.

Quote of the Day: “This is complete honesty on manipulation of the media. This is what I’m attempting to do. I’m attempting to get you to write about what I want you to write about.” — Gov. Chris Christie to reporters.

Poll Alert: A Fox News poll of registered voters has Democrat Phil Murphy leading Republican Kim Guadagno by 13 points in the governor’s race. Murphy had 42 percent support, compared to 29 percent for Guadagno, according to the poll. A recent Quinnipiac poll of likely voters — considered more authoritative because of the more reliable sample — gave Murphy a 25-point lead.

New Jersey Has the Worst Finances in the Nation, Report Says
New Jersey is nearly $209 billion in debt and has the worst finances of any state in the nation, according to a report released Tuesday.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

Christie Opposes GOP Bill to Repeal Obamacare
Gov. Chris Christie on Wednesday came out against a Republican Senate bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, telling reporters the health bill would harm New Jersey residents and take away billions of dollars in federal funding from the state.
Christian Hetrick, Observer Read more

With Graham-Cassidy Deadline Looming, Menendez Could Face Tough Choice
Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Wednesday that the latest GOP effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act —the Graham-Cassidy Bill— will likely be put up for a vote next week, something that means Sen. Bob Menendez may soon have to choose between attending his ongoing federal corruption trial or making his way to Washington D.C. to cast a vote.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

Prosecutors Say Menendez Knowingly Concealed Flights and Gifts
Prosecutors arguing the federal corruption trial of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez said on Wednesday that the senator purposely failed to report flights taken on co-defendant Salomon Melgen’s private jet in 2008 and 2010.
Alyana Alfaro, Observer Read more

From sex to slog: How the Menendez trial went from ‘tabloid’ to tedium
When federal prosecutors investigating U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez brought a Ukrainian model before a grand jury in 2013, they bluntly pressed her about her relationship with a donor accused of bribing the senator.
Inquirer Read more

After Equifax scandal, Menendez bill would guard against hacks
After lawyers and prosecutors argued his continuing corruption case in Newark, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez appeared in Hoboken Wednesday to announce a consumer protection bill and criticize Equifax executives for failing to protect credit data and then their company stock while delaying disclosing the company had been hacked.
NJ.com Read more

Why Christie says your property taxes could spike next year
Gov. Chris Christie said Wednesday a measure both Republicans and Democrats credit for helping to curb rising property taxes will expire at the end of the year unless Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Murphy throws his support behind it before Dec. 31.
NJ.com Read more

Sorry, Christie: Shaq is switching political teams
Newark native and basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal backed Gov. Chris Christie in 2013. But he’s splitting with the outgoing Republican in this year’s election. O’Neal is slated to endorsed Democratic nominee Phil Murphy on Monday.
NJ.com Read more

Christie’s ‘awkward’ moment with MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski
Gov. Chris Christie was appearing on the 10th anniversary special of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday when something, well … awkward happened.
NJ.com Read more

Weinberg calls on Space to resign
The state Senate’s second highest-ranking member is calling on Assemblyman Parker Space to resign over his use of the word “bitch” to describe one of his opponents.
Politico Read more

Space Punches Back: I’ll Resign When Every Democrat Takes A Polygraph
“I will resign when every Democrat legislator and every Democrat candidate up to and including Phil Murphy, take a polygraph to determine whether or not they have ever used the same word. Afterwards, we can all resign together,” Space said.
InsiderNJ Read more

Amtrak plan would bring more track closures to Penn Station in 2018
NJ Transit riders could be affected by more track closures in New York Penn Station planned for the first six months of 2018.
The Record Read more

At MacArthur’s office, a skirmish in the health-care battle
The little group met up outside Rep. Tom MacArthur’s district office in Marlton just before 11 a.m. Health care was back on the national political agenda — in an unwelcome way, in their opinion — and these constituents of the Republican congressman from Burlington and Ocean Counties were back on resistance.
Inquirer Read more

What happened when NJ intervened in a small town’s council
In the tiny borough of 854 residents, the biggest news source isn’t a newspaper or a Facebook page, but a bulletin board that sits outside the post office on N. Rochdale Road.
Asbury Park Press Read more

N.J. lawmaker seeks to get the lead out of drinking water in schools
The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee is pushing his colleagues to support legislation offering grants to public schools so they can replace drinking fountains tainted by lead.
NJ.com Read more

Retooling and Reviving New Jersey’s Manufacturing Heritage
From robotics and automation to biotech and chemical engineering, a group of state lawmakers in the midst of evaluating New Jersey policies related to the manufacturing industry got a crash course yesterday on how technology is reshaping a sector that used to dominate the state’s economy.
NJSpotlight Read more

Opinion: Doing Murphy Math – Taxing Millionaires Won’t Cut It
The year was 1938. Franklin D. Roosevelt occupied the White House, struggling to lift the nation from the depths of its most punishing Great Depression.
NJSpotlight Read more

NJ Politics Digest: Menendez May Choose Between Trial and Senate Vote