February 5, 2013
(J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated Press)
(J. Scott Applewhite, File/Associated Press)

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is in trouble these days. He’s got a crew of reporters chasing him around, asking about some unpleasant stuff. Like the flights to the Dominican Republic provided for free to him by Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, who is under investigation by the FBI; Menendez was recently forced to pay nearly $58,500 for those services.

And then there are the unsubstantiated prostitution allegations, which Menendez described to CNN last night as “smears.”

Politico yesterday looked at the allegations arrayed against Menendez and shrugged: “In a state with a colorful history, it takes a lot for a New Jersey politician to cross the line into political toxicity,” write Ginger Gibson and John Bresnahan.

More:

In some states, these allegations — and the fact the Senate Ethics Committee has joined federal investigators in looking into the explosive claims — would be enough to sink Menendez. But in New Jersey, that may not be enough to topple the Hudson County political boss, who runs the political machine for a part of Jersey known for being rough and tumble and who easily won reelection last year.

And this: “New Jersey political insiders tell POLITICO that even if it is proved Menendez had sex with prostitutes, he can survive that hit politically.” The story did caution that if it’s proved that he’d engaged with underage prostitutes, that’s another story.

The Post puts a different spin on New Jersey’s tolerance level vis-a-vis political shenanigans:

If the allegations prove true, Menendez could be forced to make a quick exit from politics. The state’s long history of political corruption has left voters increasingly intolerant of leaders caught up in scandal.

The story cites a “slew” of career-ending scandals over the past dozen years in New Jersey.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.