TRENTON, N.J. – Despite mounting calls for U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’ resignation following his indictment on federal corruption charges, the senator has not stepped down. Assembly Republican Leader John DiMaio is planning to introduce a constitutional amendment that would force him, and any other indicted elected official, to be suspended from office until acquittal or conviction.
“Senator Menendez, like other indicted elected officials in the past, has lost the ability to put the people of New Jersey first. His uphill legal battle will require his full attention and the seriousness of the charges deals a major blow to the public’s trust,” DiMaio (R-Warren) said. “Since he refuses to do the right thing, I feel compelled to have New Jerseyans vote on the best course of action. I think they will join me in supporting a constitutional amendment to remove Menendez from office until he can be cleared or convicted.”
Upon joining the Legislature in 2009, DiMaio signed onto a proposed constitutional amendment (ACR130) that would provide for the temporary suspension and replacement of an indicted elected official. He plans on reintroducing the measure when the Legislature reconvenes this November.
“Accusations of bribery, fraud and extortion would result in at least a suspension without pay in any other profession, but there is not a mechanism currently in place to hold elected officials to the same standard, despite the need to protect the integrity of the office or the interests of the people of New Jersey,” DiMaio added.
Under DiMaio’s proposal, the suspension and replacement process would apply to all levels of elected office in the state. If the official is acquitted of all charges or the charges are dismissed, the official would be restored to office for the remainder of the term. If convicted, the seat would be declared vacant and filled as permitted by law.
“Even just the optics of appearing above the law and staying in an elected seat for personal reasons, goes against all the principles of public service. It’s an honor and privilege to serve the people of New Jersey, not an opportunity to pad your legal defense fund,” said DiMaio.