Robert Menendez (/mɛˈnɛndɛz/; born January 1, 1954) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator from New Jersey, a seat he has held since 2006. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Jon Corzine, and later served as Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 2013 to 2015. In 2015, Menendez was indicted on 18 counts of corruption.
In 1974, at the age of 20, he was first elected to the Union City School District’s Board of Education. In 1986, he won the election for Mayor of Union City. In 1988, while continuing to serve as mayor, he was elected to represent the state’s 33rd district in the General Assembly of New Jersey and, within three years, moved to the New Jersey State Senate, upon winning the March 1991 special election for the 33rd Senate district. The next year he won a seat in the Congress of the United States for the House of Representatives and represented New Jersey’s 13th congressional district for six two-year terms, from 1993 to 2006. In January 2006, he was appointed to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jon Corzine (who had been elected 54th Governor of New Jersey), and was elected to a full six-year term in November; he was reelected in 2012 and 2018.
He stepped down as Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee in April 2015 upon being indicted on federal corruption charges. In February 2018, after his federal trial was declared a mistrial and those charges had been dropped, he returned to the position. In April 2018, Menendez was “severely admonished” by the United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics.