Supporters of New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez are not backing away from him after he was slapped with corruption charges
, accused of improperly using his influence to benefit a close friend in return for extravagant travel perks and lucrative campaign donations.
"He's going to fight this all the way, and I'm going to help as much as I can," New Jersey Democratic Rep. Albio Sires told Politico
. Asked whether the senator should resign, he retorted: "Why? He hasn't been found guilty. And that's not in Bob's DNA."
Every Democratic member of the New Jersey congressional delegation has defended the senator, while backers launched a public relations offensive with a website "IStandWithBob.com" and a Twitter account promoting statements from supporters.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he "won't waver in my commitment to stand alongside" Menendez.
"The reaction is, we don't believe it. We don't," Felix Roque, Democratic mayor of West New York, New Jersey, told Politico. "It's a big game they're playing, and we believe he's an honorable man."
Menendez started his career battling public corruption, testifying against his boss, Union City mayor William Musto in a 1982 racketeering trial. He later became the city's mayor and served in the New Jersey Assembly and state Senate before getting elected to Congress in 1992.
"I publicly complained about illegal financial dealings in my city until the FBI investigated and the U.S. attorney filed corruption charges against the mayor and others," Menendez said, according to Politico.
"I was called to testify for the prosecution. I received death threats. I wore a bulletproof vest for a month. That's how I began my career in public service, and this is not how my career is going to end."
Menendez was surrounded by supporters when he issued a statement Wednesday night in response to the charges.
"The event felt more like a campaign victory rally than a news conference of an indicted senator," Politico said.
One woman screamed: "We support you," according to Politico, while some Spanish speakers chanted "Viva Bob!" while other supporters, many from immigrant and Latino organizations, issued statements to the media in support of him.
"I think this is a really big deal for us and what it means for the Latino community to have their senator, their champion on a national level being thrown through," the indictment, said Lucia Gomez-Jimenez, executive director of La Fuente, an advocacy group, according to Politico. "I think Bob is going to come out clean from this, but yet you would've tarnished his name."
Allies are also adamant that the senator will not back down from a fight to clear his name.
"Sen. Menendez is not going anywhere," Michael Soliman, former state director for Menendez told Politico. "He will continue to fight for the people of New Jersey and has the time, resources, and energy to do so."
"There's gonna be pressure for him to fight this to the utmost," Roque said. "And knowing him, it's in his chromosomes that this guy's a fighter."
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