Reeling from the Donald Scarinci tape scandal, Menendez sought to deflect attention by trying to discredit physician Oscar Sandoval, who was at the heart of the controversy revealed on the tapes.
Desperate for a diversion, Menendez's spokesman Matt Miller asserted that Oscar Sandoval was the brother of José Sandoval, the Republican running for Congress against Bill Pascrell in CD-8 (as I did 2 years ago).
Sandoval rightfully went ballistic.
"I do not know Dr. Oscar Sandoval, and he is not related to me in any way, shape, or form. This is blatant racism on behalf of the Menendez campaign. Just because we both have Hispanic surnames does not mean that we are related."Assemblyman Eric Muñoz, Republican Senatorial candidate Tom Kean's colleague representing District 21 in Trenton, who is of Puerto Rican descent, joined the outrage.
"How dare he (Miller) make such racist assumptions? Just because two Hispanic individuals have the same name that does not mean they are related. Mr. Miller's statements are completely ignorant."Miller responded with typical arrogance.
"I made the same factual mistake that several reporters and others made, nothing more."I, for one, join Sandoval and Muñoz in their disgust. How careless and condescending. By Miller's logic, Kean could put out an ad unjustly drawing a close familial connection between his opponent and the infamous Menendez Brothers, convicted in 1996 of murdering their parents in cold blood, and then shrug it off the next day as a "factual mistake".
I also find it shocking that the press largely gave Menendez a pass on this issue. The Hispanic community of NJ certainly deserves a Senator who will give them enough respect to recognize that not everyone with the same surname is related. The fact that Menendez is Hispanic himself makes it even more insulting.
In the meantime, I suggest that Menendez invite Steve Lonegan out for an iced coffee at McDonalds.