NEWARK - In the wake of an indictment on federal corruption charges, Sen. Robert Menendez has temporarily stepped down as the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee.
“While there is no caucus rule that dictates that I do so, I believe it is in the best interests of the committee, my colleagues, and the Senate, which is why I have chosen to do so," the senator said in a statement.
Sen. Menendez claimed an office oversight for failing to reimburse his longtime friend, Dr. Solomon Melgen, for plane trips made on Melgen's private plane.
READ MORE: New Jersey Politics
Supporters gathered outside his office Wednesday to show loyalty to the senator.
Among the supporters were about a dozen Cuban Americans who were once political prisoners of the Castro regime. They say it will be bad for New Jersey to lose the voice of such an influential voice in foreign relations.
“I'm here to support Sen. Menendez because every time I need a favor to do something for the Spanish community, he's always there,” says Adina Dubon, a supporter of the senator.
West New York Mayor Felix Roque was among the supporters.
“Menendez has given [the political prisoners] back their dignity they lost when they were in jail, that's why Menendez is an idol to them,” he says.
However, some feel that if the charges are in fact true, the senator should answer for the crimes.
"I think the law applies to everyone. And it doesn't matter who you are. If you violate the law, then you should have to face the consequences,” says Mary Hayles, of Roselle.
Sen. Menendez is scheduled to appear in federal court in Newark on Thursday.