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US. Senator Bob Menendez. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Menendez calls Hugin a slimeball misogynist liar

Senators says rival TV ad is desperate bid to bridge gender gap

By Nikita Biryukov, October 17 2018 1:40 pm

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez on Wednesday flatly denied claims in TV ad aired by Republican Bob Hugin that, without meaningful evidence, alleged that Menendez had sex with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

“This deceitful, despicable attack ad tells you everything you need to know about Republican Bob Hugin – that he’s a slimeball, he’s a misogynist and he’s a liar,” Menendez said at a press conference Wednesday. “Bob Hugin is down in the polls. He’s wrong on the issues, and he’s desperate to distract the people of New Jersey from his own shameful record.”

Hugin’s ad pushed allegations spread by an anonymous tipster using the moniker Pete Williams, an apparent reference to former U.S. Senator Harrison “Pete” Williams, Jr. who was convicted for taking bribes in 1981, that claimed Menendez slept with prostitutes, some of whom were underage, during trips to a villa owned by Salomon Melgen in the Dominican Republic.

Hugin’s ad quotes an affidavit written by FBI special agent Gregory Sheehy, who was assigned to the case, in which the allegations were stipulated.

But, that quoting can be perceived as deceptive.

“In that email and in the emails that followed, Mr. Williams alleged that, for several years, Menendez had been traveling to the Dominican Republic to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes — some of whom were minors,” the affidavit read.

Hugin’s ad cut out the attribution to Williams, saying only that “for several years, Menendez had been traveling to the Dominican Republic to engage in sexual activity with prostitutes — some of whom were minors.”

That claim and a number of others present in the 60-second TV spot have been panned by fact checkers in the days following the ad’s release.

The Washington Post awarded Hugin four Pinocchios, the paper’s worst rating – one that denotes an outright lie, and a fact check by the New York Times said the ad “attempts to paint an overall unproven accusation as supported by federal law enforcement, when that is simply not the case.”

Menendez had little doubt about the drive behind Hugin’s ad. It’s targeted at a demographic Hugin will need to do better with to have any hope of winning in November.

“Bob Hugin knows that I have a huge, double-digit lead with women in the state of New Jersey,” Menendez said. “Bob Hugin knows that you can’t explain away how you fought, with your own money, through the federal courts of the United States all the way to do what? To stop women from joining your all-male eating club.”

A Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday that found Menendez leading Hugin 51%-44% put the senator ahead with the state’s women 56%-38%.

Women, suburban women especially, are considered New Jersey’s only true swing voters, and they’re often the cause for Republican victories in statewide contests, though the party has not seen such a victory in a U.S. Senate race since 1972.

Despite the panning Hugin’s ad has received by fact checkers, it may still have an effect on voters in the state, even though Menendez is countering it with an ad of his own.

“Bob Hugin is lying about Bob Menendez – ‘the FBI has found no evidence in this case’ – and Hugin knows it,” a new Menendez ad says, quoting a CNN report from when the allegations were first made in 2012. “’It’s clear that someone was out to smear Menendez.’ Hugin was willing to do anything to get rich, including misleading cancer patients, now he’s willing to do anything to get elected, including lie. ‘One prostitute said she was paid to lie about Menendez. Bob Hugin is willing to do anything except tell the truth.’”

Hugin’s camp has claimed they were referencing different prostitutes than those who had recanted their claims about Menendez.

Whether or not the ad will be successful in combating Hugin’s remains to be seen, as the latter ad has already been on the airwaves for two days, and it’s possible some who saw that ad won’t see Menendez’s response, though the senator’s campaign didn’t seem worried about that prospect.

“If you report the truth, if people report the truth, it’ll be effective,” said Steve Sandberg, a spokesman for the Menendez campaign.

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2 thoughts on “Menendez calls Hugin a slimeball misogynist liar

  1. Senator Bob Menendez has me so upset that I have decided to drop my U.S. Congressional campaign in NJ-11 and instead focus on my newly launched write-in campaign to claim his seat. I just know that Bob Menendez must be very corrupt, otherwise he would not have Mikie Sherrill as his running mate. Mikie spoke in favor of ISIS in a dream the I had the other night, so it’s pretty clear that a vote for her is a vote for ISIS. Please write-in Trad Jay Webber for Senate on Election Day, everyone!

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