Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who is now facing an additional charge of acting as a foreign agent in an indictment released Thursday, has a history of opposing Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) reforms, according to Senate records.
In 2020, Menendez blocked Democrat Sen. Chuck Grassley’s bipartisan-led effort to create stricter penalties regulating influence of foreign entities on the U.S. government. The Foreign Agents Disclosure and Registration Enhancement Act of 2019 would have built upon existing law to boost disclosure to the public of foreign lobbying campaigns.
“It seems shortsighted to provide additional enforcement tools before we have figured out what that regime should look like,” Menendez said on the Senate floor, according to congressional records. “The disturbing rise of foreign influence campaigns that use a variety of measures to mask who is the ultimate source or beneficiary should serve as an alarm bell for all of us.
“So, before this body passes any tweaks or new tools and adds to the current patchwork of FARA regulations and exemptions, I think we should take a step back and take a comprehensive look, and we have not done that.”
At the time, Grassley said the bill would give “the Justice Department new tools to detect and deter secret foreign lobbying and ensures policymakers and the American public know when influence campaigns are being pushed by foreign interests.”
Another bill seeking to close loopholes in FARA and foreign lobbying disclosure, brought forth this year by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas and called the PAID OFF Act, would have made it more difficult for unregistered foreign agents to lobby in the U.S.
Texas state Rep. August Pfluger, a Republican, led the PAID OFF Act in the House. In response to the additional charges against Menendez, Pfluger said in a statement: “As if the charges against Senator Menendez aren’t incriminating enough, the fact that he blocked a bill to prevent foreign adversaries from influencing our policymakers makes this even more serious.”
A GOP aide told Fox News Digital Menendez “actively fought” to keep the legislation from being added as an amendment to the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed over the summer. Both chambers will have to agree on a package by the end of the year.
Both bills would have established stricter regulations for disclosing foreign lobbying and created harsher penalties for misstatements resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Menendez is accused of acting as a foreign agent and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to benefit the Egyptian government through his “power and influence as a Senator,” according to the superseding indictment filed by a grand jury in Manhattan Thursday.
A superseding indictment is a formal document issued by a grand jury that replaces and expands upon a previous indictment in a criminal case. It is used when new evidence or charges arise after an initial indictment has been issued.
In a statement to Fox News Digital after publication, Menendez denied the new charges and insisted he has always been “loyal to only one country — the United States of America.”
According to the indictment, “Among other actions, Menendez provided sensitive U.S. Government information and took other steps that secretly aided the Government of Egypt.
“It was a part and an object of the conspiracy that Robert Menendez, the defendant, and others known and unknown, being a public official, directly and indirectly, would and did corruptly demand, seek, receive, accept, and agree to receive and accept something of value personally and for another person and entity, in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act and for being induced to do an act and omit to do an act in violation of his official duty,” the indictment says.
Fox News Digital has reached out to Menendez’s office for comment.