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Addressing Controversy, Menendez Invokes Words Of MLK At Black History Month Event


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Amid a handful of allegations that threaten to mar his reputation in the Senate, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., continues to maintain his innocence, decrying the accusations as right-wing attempts to "destroy" his career and invoking the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in asserting his faith that justice will win out.

Menendez, who was re-elected to his seat in November, has since been hit with allegations that he solicited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, where prostitution is legal. The FBI is looking into the claims. The allegations were originally reported by a conservative website citing an anonymous source.

Menendez has also been accused of improperly lobbying the State Department on a port security contract on behalf of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a close friend and donor. Menendez recently reimbursed Melgen $58,000 for two of three trips he took on Melgen's plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010, but called the tardy reimbursement an honest oversight and says the allegations against him are "absolutely false." The Senate Ethics Committee is investigating Menendez regarding those trips. Melgen himself is the target of more than one federal investigation stemming from allegations of Medicare fraud.

This weekend, at an event celebrating Black History Month at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton, N.J., the senator answered the accusations with the words of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Dr. King said that 'the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,'" he said, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger. "Now we face anonymous, faceless, nameless individuals from right-wing sources seeking to destroy a lifetime of work. And their scares are false. I have worked too hard and too long in the vineyards to allow, at my hands, for the harvest to be soured."

"I have felt the sting of discrimination," he said, according to the North Jersey Record.

Menendez said he believes ultimately, "justice will overcome the forces of darkness."

"I have my hand on the plough," he said, "and I am going to continue to look forward and to work to make that plough lead us to the fulfillment of educational, economic and health care opportunity in this country."

A recent Quinnipiac poll shows a recent drop in Menendez's popularity, with just 36 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving.

But the Democrat, who is at the start of another six-year term, brushed off the importance of those numbers.

"The only poll that matters is what do I get accomplished each and every day," he said, according to the Star-Ledger.

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