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Voters overlook scandals for criminally accused members of Congress

November 7, 2018

The most scandal-prone members of Congress either won or were headed toward victory in their races Wednesday morning, suggesting voters were willing to overlook criminal allegations in order to back their preferred partisan warriors.

Both parties have tainted champions.

In New Jersey, Sen. Bob Menendez beat the rap last year after a hung jury failed to convict him on corruption charges. He was accused of assisting a close friend on any number of official actions, in exchange for gifts and travel.

He was also “severely admonished” by the Senate Ethics Committee investigation in April 2018 after an investigation into the charges.

A majority of voters told pollsters they disapproved of him yet he won re-election easily, topping 50 percent of the vote against Trump-backed GOP candidate Bob Hugin.

Two of President Trump’s closest allies, meanwhile, also appear to have escaped electoral doom.

Republican Rep. Chris Collins was projected to win his New York race.

He was charged in August with insider trading, and authorities drew a compelling case complete with times of phone calls arguing he used knowledge gleaned from his position in a pharmaceutical company to get family and friends to sell before the company’s stock plummeted.

He was stripped of his responsibilities in Congress. The congressman faces an investigation from the House Ethics Committee, as well as a 2020 criminal trial.

The close race came down to a 1 percent margin, prompting Nathan McMurray, Mr. Collin’s opponent, to recant on his earlier concession and call for a recount.

In California, Rep. Duncan Hunter looks like he will also head back to Washington despite a federal indictment and House investigation.

In August, the Republican and his wife were accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of campaign funds for personal use.

He has a sizable lead over challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar, with more than half of the votes, though precincts are still reporting.

Meanwhile, Rep. Keith Ellison, who’s also a high-ranking official in the Democratic National Committee, won election as Minnesota’s attorney general, despite allegations of domestic abuse against a former girlfriend.

Mr. Ellison had denied the accusations, but they continued to swirl amid the #MeToo movement and the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh.

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