In Defense Of Bob Menendez: Who Among Us Has Not Googled, ‘How Much Is 1 Kilo Of Gold Worth?’


It’s been almost two weeks since Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was indicted on bribery charges, and he’s made it clear that he’s not going anywhere.

He says he’s done nothing wrong. That he isn’t going to resign from the Senate; in fact, he plans to run for reelection. He says he has a perfectly reasonable explanation for the allegations that he accepted cash, gold and a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for aiding the Egyptian government and a trio of New Jersey businessmen. That $480,000 in cash stuffed in envelopes and clothing hidden all over his house? Obviously he was just keeping that money on hand in case of an emergency.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe for U.S. senators, it is totally normal to have $100,000 worth of gold bars lying around the house.

And really, who among us has not, as Menendez allegedly did, googled, “How much is one kilo of gold worth?”

“I have not,” said Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.). “I’ve never even seen a gold bar.”

He was proud to say that he has seen gold coins, though.

“A friend of mine’s father, he gave me one-tenth of an ounce of little coins,” Hickenlooper said. “I can tell you, those were worth about $102, $104, in 1995.”

“Wait, what?” said Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who did not know what HuffPost was talking about and then figured it out. He said he did not have gold bars at home.

“I don’t think I have ever seen a bar of gold,” he said.

Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said he’s never even thought about googling how much gold is worth. Without naming names, he said it was strange to think that here in 2023, anyone would be allegedly accepting bribes that include actual bars of gold.

“I never have seen a bar of gold, no,” Cramer said. “I keep wondering, how does a guy get offers like this in this job?”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who allegedly had hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cash and gold bars hidden around his house, wouldn't tell HuffPost why he allegedly googled, "How much is one kilo of gold worth?"
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who allegedly had hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of cash and gold bars hidden around his house, wouldn’t tell HuffPost why he allegedly googled, “How much is one kilo of gold worth?”

New York Daily News via Getty Images

The indictment against Menendez, which was announced by federal prosecutors in New York, alleges that he “engaged in a corrupt relationship” with New Jersey businessmen, in which Menendez and his wife allegedly took hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for official acts to “enrich” the businessmen and aid the Egyptian government.

Menendez was previously indicted on unrelated bribery charges in 2015. That case — which Menendez at the time called “dead wrong” — ended in a hung jury in 2017, and a judge dismissed it a year later.

Several Democratic senators didn’t even want to indulge HuffPost’s question about gold bars, namely because it’s silly, and to laugh at it — which senators in both parties did — is to acknowledge how damning it is that their own colleague allegedly repeatedly googled the value of gold before being indicted on corruption charges involving lots of gold bars.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is not one of the dozens of Senate Democrats who has called on Menendez to resign, ducked into a Senate elevator when asked about the normalcy of having bars of gold at home.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), who also is not calling on Menendez to go, said something about New Jersey voters needing to decide if they want him to resign, in response to a question about the gold bars. Then she rode off in a Senate subway.

“I’m on the Ethics Committee. I never talk about anything that may come before the Ethics Committee,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “I have an easy rule here, where I just say, if it may come before the ethics committee, I don’t talk about it.”

OK, but have you ever googled how much a kilo of gold is worth?

“I’m not answering that!” he said with a laugh.

After searching high and low, it turns out that at least one senator has searched online to learn about the value of gold: Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.). He was the first senator to call on Menendez to resign, has said he would vote to expel him from the Senate and has repeatedly criticized him for not leaving, saying his “level of arrogance is just astonishing.”

“Yes. I did that after [Menendez] did,” Fetterman said. “I was going to buy my own gold bar, you know? So I could either go to his contacts or buy one at Costco.”

“But if I did get one, it’s not going to go in my mattress,” he said.

“I was going to buy my own gold bar, you know?”

– Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) was the first top Democrat in his state to call on Menendez to resign after being indicted. Last week, as it became clear that the New Jersey senator isn’t stepping down, Kim announced that he will challenge Menendez for his seat in 2024.

On a Thursday press call with progressives, he told HuffPost that the detail about the gold bars is “capturing a lot of people’s attention here in New Jersey.”

“Who has these around their house?” Kim asked. “The fact that this is even in our lexicon right now, something that has been googled, shows how out of touch this whole situation is…We certainly need the answers to all of this.”

He said he’s never googled the value of gold, either, or seen a bar of gold in person.

“I don’t actually know how large they are,” said Kim.

Menendez still hasn’t explained why he had gold bars lying around at home. He wanted to be prepared for possible emergencies, yes, of course, but in the form of gold bars?

HuffPost unexpectedly bumped into Menendez last Thursday morning as he headed into the Senate building. Nobody was around. He strangely didn’t have any of his aides with him. For a good 45 seconds, it was just him and HuffPost.

So we asked the most important question to ask a man at the center of an indictment scandal, whose Senate seat, should it fall into the hands of the other party, could flip control of the chamber to Republicans.

“Senator, why did you google, ‘How much is a kilo of gold worth?’”

“Well, you’ll find out at trial,” Menendez said cheerfully, trying to hurry inside.

“The press would like me to go ahead and lay out my whole defense in the public forum,” he said, slipping into the building. “It’s not going to happen.”

Anyway, 1 kilogram of gold is worth $58,527, as of Thursday.


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