Menéndez Trial Could Hinge on the Definition of ‘Constituent’

Senator Robert Menéndez's (D-NJ) trial continues and the NYT has a look at what could be a defining issue in the case: the definition of "constituent." The Constitution does not define who a member of Congress can legally call a constituent, and there is no case law defining who exactly is a constituent. This lack of clarity has brought about issues in the federal corruption case against Menéndez, with both sides debating its meaning since the Senator has been accused of using his office to do favors for Dr. Salomón Melgen, a donor who lives in Florida. Menéndez's defense argues that his “attention to cultural minorities and underrepresented communities, particularly Hispanic-Americans, as well as immigration issues generally, exemplifies his focus on ethnic constituencies and issue constituencies whose members are not limited to New Jersey residents.” Judge William H. Walls asked both sides to file written arguments about how they define constituent. Melgen lives in Florida and has never lived in New Jersey. He is Hispanic, having grown up in the Dominican Republic and emigrating to the U.S. in 1978. It’s an issue that could have serious repercussions across the country. Read more here.

Brenda Arredondo