| home | Torricelli
Robert Guy Torricelli
Democrat, New Jersey (Rep. 1983-1996; Senator 1997-2002)
With re-election just a few weeks away, the Honorable Robert Torricelli, the Torch to friend and enemy alike, called it quits. It looked like Torricelli would win, but then a damaging Justice Department report of his alleged ethical abuses was released by his Senate opponent, Doug Forrester. The Senate ethics committee also strong chastised Torricelli.
What did he allegedly do wrong? Well, he met up with a guy named David Chang, who was looking for help on business deals.
Chang and the Torch met in 1995, and in 1996 Torricelli was elected to the Senate, replacing Bill Bradley. In 1999, Chang told the FBI that he illegally gave Torricelli tens of thousands of dollars and expensive gifts in return for his help. The FBI checked, and three years later, in January 2002, it ended its criminal probe of Torricelli. They did not press charges, but sent the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee. On July 30, the Senate Ethics Committee severely admonished Torricelli for taking the gifts from Chang.
Five weeks before the election, and Torricelli quit the race. Torricelli: "I am a human being. And while I have not done the things that I have been accused of doing, I most certainly made mistakes. When did we become such an unforgiving people?" (Click here for other examples of "Lyin' Through Their Teeth").
What to do? And is it legal? The Democrats scrambled for a replacement; pundits called it New Jersey the State of Sleaze. The state and federal courts said it was okay to have a substitute, even though the deadline had passed.
And in comes Torricelli's old nemesis, former Senator Frank Lautenberg, who handily won the election.
Hey, he's baaack!! The Senate is looking into allegations that Torricelli urged Baghdad to give a U.S. company lucrative contracts under the heavily-criticized U.N. oil-for-food program. Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), chairman of the subcommittee on investigations said: "We take these allegations seriously and will continue to investigate in a bipartisan manner allegations of wrongdoing under the oil-for-food program."
According to the documents which were seized ater the fall of Saddam Hussein, Torricelli had a series of meetings in the late 1990s, when he was a congressman, with Nizar Hamdoun, then the Iraqi ambassador to the U.N. During these meetings, Torricelli allegedly urged the Iraqi authorities to help David Chang and his trading company, Bright and Bright, get oil-for-food contracts on good terms. We'll keep you posted as things develop.
Sources: Ralph R. Ortega, "The Torch Goes Out in Tears," New York Daily News, October 1, 2002; Raymond Hernandez, "By Rolling in the Big Guns, the Race is Overshadowed," New York Times, September 29, 2002, 2; Ron Scherer, "Torricelli Pullout; Wrong Year for Ethics Baggage," Christian Science Monitor, October 2, 2002, 2. Claudio Gatti, "Ex-Senator Linked to Oil-For-Food Claims," Financial Times, London, May 19, 2006, 6.