A statement from former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid insisting that “a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate” has suddenly disappeared from the website of the Senate Democrats as jurors deliberate in the federal corruption trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).
On Nov. 1, 2008, Reid issued the statement after Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was convicted on corruption charges. The verdict came down just before his 2008 re-election bid — which he narrowly lost. Pointing to Stevens’ conviction, Reid wrote that “the reality is that a convicted felon is not going to be able to serve in the United States Senate.”
Reid added that Stevens’ decision to break the law with “partisan political gain” in mind should not be viewed as a “a partisan issue.”
This statement, however, appeared to be removed recently from the Senate Democrats’ webpage after residing there for roughly nine years, America Rising PAC press secretary Scott Sloofman highlighted in a press release Tuesday.
“For over nine years, Democrats.Senate.Gov has hosted then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Nov. 1, 2008, statement calling on the just-convicted Sen. Ted Stevens to resign,” Sloofman noted. “Yet, now that jury deliberations in Sen. Menendez’s trial have started, this is the page you get when you go to:”
The statement’s webpage link now only leads to a page stating, “This link is extinct! We’re working on it.”
“Unfortunately for Senate Democrats, the internet is forever,” Sloofman said.
On Monday, 12 jurors began their deliberations. Menendez was indicted on 18 counts of corruption-related charges, including accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions and perks from his close friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, an ophthalmologist in West Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors alleged that in exchange for money and favors, Menendez wielded his political influence to help Melgen resolve business disputes with the federal government and secure visas for his girlfriends.
“Your common sense tells you this is corruption,” Peter Koski, one of the Justice Department’s prosecutors in the case, told the court Monday. “Their strategy comes down to strategy and misdirection. Spend enough time talking about friendship, maybe the jury will forget about bribery … Do not let the defense get away with this.”
“[Melgen] needed power, needed action, needed results on his issues,” Koski added. “This is corruption. Do not let them get away with this.”
But congressional Democrats have shown a marked lack of interest in condemning Menendez and calling for his resignation should he be convicted. In direct contrast, leading Republicans back in 2008 called for their own party member's resignation following Stevens' conviction.
Then-Republican nominee for president Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, "It is clear that Sen. Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at the time that Stevens "should resign."
At the time, even former President Barack Obama issued an eloquent statement urging Stevens to resign after he was convicted on federal corruption charges.
"Yesterday's ruling wasn't just a verdict on Senator Stevens — but on the broken politics that has infected Washington for decades," Obama had said. "It's time to put an end to the corruption and influence-peddling, restore openness and accountability, and finally put government back in the hands of the people it serves. Senator Stevens should step down."