US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) speaks during a press conference on an agreement for principles on comprehensive immigration reform framework at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 28, 2013. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Over the weekend, many were disgusted that ABC conducted a lengthy interview with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), but failed to ask him a single question about the allegations that he paid young foreigners to sleep with him. Especially considering Menendez may soon take over the prominent role of chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with John Kerry's appointment as secretary of state.
While none of the claims have been proven, it appears as though the authorities may have begun expanding their investigation (it was reported by the Associated Press last month that Menendez was employing an illegal immigrant and sex offender as an unpaid intern, but that Homeland Security instructed federal agents not to arrest him until after the election).
On Tuesday night, the office of a Florida doctor who contributed heavily to Menendez' campaigns and is accused of facilitating the senator's x-rated trips to the Dominican Republic was raided by the FBI.
The Miami Herald explains:
FBI agents late Tuesday night raided the West Palm Beach business of an eye doctor suspected of providing free trips and even underage Dominican Republic prostitutes to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J. — who has denied what he calls the “fallacious allegations.”
Agents gathered at the medical-office complex of Dr. Salomon Melgen, a contributor to Menendez and other prominent politicians, to start hauling away potential evidence in several vans.
The investigation is believed to be focusing on Melgen’s finances and the allegations about Menendez’s trips and contact with prostitutes. A spokesman for Menendez could not be reached for comment, nor could Melgen.
Melgen has an outstanding IRS lien of $11.1 million for taxes owed from 2006 to 2009, according to records filed with the Palm Beach County recorder’s office. A previous IRS lien for $6.2 million was released in 2011.
Despite those financial problems, Melgen and his family have contributed at least $357,000 to candidates and committees since 1998, according to Florida and federal campaign records. Of that, the Melgens have contributed about 9 percent to Menendez’s federal campaigns.
Melgen also owns a private CL-600 Challenger plane through one of his West Palm Beach-based companies, and frequently flies between South Florida and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, where he is from. [Emphasis added]
The Daily Caller broke the story back in November, speaking with a high-level government official from the Dominican Republic and two prostitutes who claim to have been promised $500 if they slept with the senator, but were only paid $100.
“As far as Bob Menendez is concerned he has a very good life there,” the Dominican official reportedly said during an in-person interview. “He likes sexual things.”
The official added that it's not unusual for Dominican lawmakers to throw wild "sex parties" since prostitution is legal in the country, but that it's rare to see prominent Americans comport themselves in such a fashion. He emphasized that Menendez and Melgen did their best to make sure all the girls were of age, but the Daily Caller reports that some were as young as 16.
“He [Menendez] is getting to be well known [in the Dominican Republic] for this party mentality because a few times it’s hit the press — the gossip columns,” the official noted.
On January 25, the Daily Caller added that documents published online indicate the FBI has opened an investigation into Menendez' trips abroad with Melgen.
But details are still scarce, and it's possible Melgen's finances were the primary motivator behind the raid.
A spokesman for Menendez's office called the reports "unsubstantiated garbage" and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stood by his fellow Democratic lawmaker.
“Always consider the source," Reid said. "All anyone here has to look at is the source where this comes from.”
ABC Action News has more:
This post has been updated.