At an event commemorating the 200th anniversary of the duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Congressman Robert Menendez explains that in the kinder, gentler Hudson County of today, poltical disagreements no longer result in fights to the death.
Posts Tagged ‘Robert Menendez’
In the 2006 US Senate race, the Kean campaign ran a commercial featuring a tape of long-time Menendez friend and ally Donald Scarinci speaking with Oscar Sandoval, an FBI informant. The recorded voice of Scarinci talking to Dr. Sandoval at first shocked political observers in Hudson County. As the story developed it turned out that the tapes were seven years old and at the time Scarinci was Sandoval’s attorney. Authorities declared that there was nothing criminal. FactCheck of the Annenberg Public Policy Center commented: “Stretching the truth. Unsupported allegations.”
Donald Scarinci neatly sidestepped the puddle in the gutter by disassociating himself from both the campaign and his law firm. As Scarinci now had no official connection to the Menendez camp, he even got quoted in the news as if an independent observer.
The Scarinci tape Kean campaign ad was not a knockout punch. In order to stun, either a steady stream of additional evidence and/or corroboration from law enforcement, witnesses, and/or experts was necessary. As follow-up was notable only by its absence, many who were prejudiced against Hudson County politicians might have reconsidered when accusations grew old and cold, seeming to be without foundation.
Adding insult to injury: The 2006 Kean – Menendez US Senate race
Attorney Donald Scarinci, long-time friend of Robert Menendez, is a recognized expert in the field of numismatics (coin collecting). Scarinci is a Fellow of the American Numismatic Society and a Trustee of Medal Collectors of America. As a member of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, Donald Scarinci advises the Treasury and U.S. Mint concerning the design of coins and medallions. In his studies, Donald Scarinci has focused on coins from the Colonial and early American eras and medallic art. His interest in art medals has been especially wide-ranging, including work both contemporary and from the past, US and international.
I just wish that he’d come up with a dollar coin that isn’t either like a garbage can lid in your pocket or gets handed out as a quarter by mistake.
After the death of Glenn Cunningham, Sandra Cunningham lobbied to be appointed to fill his State Senate seat. The Hudson County Democratic Organization bluntly refused, giving the position instead to Joe Doria, a fervent opponent of Glenn Cunningham.
As a consolation prize, the HCDO promised to support Sandra Cunningham for the State Assembly. A Cunningham confidant, arguing that an Assembly seat was “nothing” (the brief two-year term forces the holder to be constantly at the beck and call of the County Organization), urged Sandra to turn down the offer and to hold out for — at the very least — the State Senate seat. A member of the upper house has a 4-year cushion to develop their own power.
Matters appeared to end there. Out of sight, political seismic plates still continued to collide, with some social earthquake engendering a paradigm shifting tsunami as an ever-present possibility. The 2006 Kean – Menendez US Senate race seemed to announce the cataclysm’s due date.
The Democrats well-understood that Sandra Cunningham could be a one-woman weapon of mass destruction against the Menendez campaign. The widow Cunningham’s influence could be leveraged and so would easily extend far beyond Hudson County. By traveling throughout New Jersey communicating the racial overtones of the vicious Glenn Cunningham – Robert Menendez feud, Sandra Cunningham could vaporize the Menendez campaign. Public appearances by the photogenic and articulate Sandra would be sure to receive intense media coverage. At the very least, African-American voters state-wide would reject Menendez. The County Organizations and prominent figures would shun a damaged goods Bob Menendez. Donations and volunteer efforts would be hurt, too.
Menendez backers could only imagine that the Kean campaign was making every effort to develop this opportunity. After all, Bobby Jackson, one of Glenn Cunningham’s most prominent supporters — and far from friendly with Bob Menendez, had backed the elder Tom Kean’s run for governor. And, with the Republicans firmly in control of DC, high-profile posts in the Federal machinery and plum embassy assignments were just sitting there on the shelf. These are just some examples of the inducements that the Kean group had at their disposal. Basically the best the Democrats had to offer was what now looked like a somewhat shopworn seat in the NJ State Legislature.
Initially, Sandra Cunningham was in communication with both camps.
Mrs. Cunningham met with the architects of the Kean campaign to discuss her backing the Republican effort. To travel throughout New Jersey working to put young Tom Kean in the US Capitol, Cunningham required a meal allowance and the use of a car. The Kean people, cerebral anatomy apparently modded by lobotomy or thorazine, said no to these very reasonable and modest requests. The Kean group seemingly had already decided that reaching out to the Stars and Bars pickup truck crowd with Know Nothing anti-immigrant mutterings (which presumably had polled well in Sussex) was the way to go. With this cap gun in their holster, the Kean campaign saw no need for an atomic bomb.
After a terse and insightful comment, Sandra Cunningham got up and walked out of the meeting.
The Democrats maintained what they saw as an increasingly desperate attempt to change Sandra Cunningham’s mind. The Menendez group, not knowing that they were the only game in town, continued to bid against themselves. Achieving success, from their perspective against all odds, the Democrats collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Menendez’s people gave themselves a pat on the back for what they could only see as a job well done.
Adding insult to injury: The 2006 Kean – Menendez US Senate race
In April of 1981, a grand jury indicted Union City Mayor and State Senator William Musto on 36 counts of racketeering, extortion and fraud. He was convicted on March 26, 1982. On May 10, 1982, Musto was sentenced to seven years in prison.
During the trial, Musto campaigned for the the City Commission of Union City. Popularity unspoiled by the legal turmoil, he won reelection on May 11, 1982 — defeating one-time ally (and now US Senator), Bob Menendez. After the courts removed Bill from office, the Musto name retained its magic in the voting booth. William Musto’s wife, Rhyta, won the subsequent special election.
Kissinger said, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.” It’s definitely the ultimate something-or-other. Take Hudson County’s own Bob Menendez as a for instance. Over ten years ago Menendez’s fans chortled, “He’s got a little chippee at every exit offa 95 between here and D.C.” One might ask to what degree this statement erred due to exaggeration. But, were there any errors of omission?
When Robert Menendez was Mayor of Union City, one resident named Eddy made it a point to attend public appearances of Mayor Menendez. Eddy, through a bullhorn, commented on Menendez’s weight – and other things.
Union City brought a legal action against Eddy. Acting as his own attorney, the gadfly used the proceedings to put Menendez on the stand for questioning. Eddy then recited the list of provocative remarks, asking Menendez what he thought.
Menendez had the last laugh.
The court ruled against Eddy. The municipality then sued to recover the legal costs. To counterbalance the hefty bill, Union City seized a number of houses that Eddy owned.