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The odd, celebrity-filled courtship of Sen. Bob Menendez & wife

By Jake Beardslee · September 29, 2023

In brief…

  • Senator Menendez's wife, Nadine Arslanian, partied with reality TV stars before dating him.
  • Arslanian also dated attorney Doug Anton, who later represented singer R. Kelly.
  • Menendez confessed his love for Arslanian in 2018.
  • Menendez allegedly wooed Arslanian with promises of power and a lavish lifestyle.
  • The couple faces up to 45 years in prison on federal corruption charges.
Senator Bob Menendez's wife Nadine Arslanian lived a glamorous yet financially strained life before marrying the New Jersey senator.  Senator Bob Menendez/Wikimedia

Sen. Bob Menendez’s wife, Nadine Arslanian, had a more turbulent romantic history with the senator than previously disclosed, according to a new report from The New York Post.

Arslanian, who pleaded not guilty alongside Menendez to federal corruption charges Wednesday, was introduced to him by a restaurant owner in 2008, not in 2018 as the couple originally claimed.

She and Menendez were friends in the years following Arslanian’s earlier divorce. In 2011, she began dating attorney Doug Anton, who later represented singer R. Kelly during his sex-trafficking trial.

After Arslanian wished Menendez happy birthday in January 2018, the New Jersey senator confessed his love for her. She dated both Menendez and Anton for several months until the senator allegedly “wanted to bully [Anton] out of the picture” by sending Capitol Police to his office, a friend of Anton’s told The Post.

Despite Arslanian’s reported money troubles, she enjoyed lavish parties and trips.

Menendez “sold her a dream,” according to former mobster John Alite. The senator took Arslanian to high-level meetings and on international trips. He worked to get the Senate to recognize the Armenian genocide, which was deeply important to her family. In 2019, Menendez proposed at the Taj Mahal in India, serenading her with “Never Enough” from “The Greatest Showman.”

Some of the senator’s friends worry that he might blame his wife or accuse her of wrongdoing to protect his political career.

“He used her and manipulated her,” Alite told The Post. “As a senator, he’s a half-a–ed gangster.”