NEWARK, N.J. — Sen. Bob Menendez might spend 2018 asking voters to re-elect him and jurors to acquit him.
Federal prosecutors told a federal judge in New Jersey on Friday that they will seek a retrial of the Democratic senator, whose 11-week corruption trial ended in a hung jury in November.
The filing to the judge seeks a retrial “at the earliest possible date.” Menendez didn’t immediately comment on the development.
Menendez and his longtime friend, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, were charged in 2015 with a bribery scheme in which Menendez allegedly traded political favors for gifts and campaign donations. Menendez also was charged with making false statements on his Senate financial disclosure forms.
Menendez, a former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has been in the Senate since 2006, is expected to run for re-election, though he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy.
Several jurors interviewed after the first trial said as many as 10 of 12 members of the panel were in favor of acquittal.
In December, the defense renewed its pre-trial motions to have U.S. District Judge William Walls dismiss the charges. Attorneys wrote that “scrutiny of the evidence remains warranted, especially given the press statements by jurors and alternates about the lack of proof.”
Prosecutors sought to tie gifts and campaign donations from Melgen to meetings and conversations Menendez had with executive branch officials on matters that would have benefited Melgen’s business interests.
One such matter was a $9 million Medicare billing dispute involving Melgen’s ophthalmology practice.
Defense lawyers argued during the trial that the gifts, which included a stay at a luxury Paris hotel and trips on Melgen’s private jet to his villa in the Dominican Republic, were an expression of the pair’s longtime friendship and weren’t bribes.
They also contended Menendez’s meetings with officials including former Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius were to advance broader policy objectives.