Senator Bob Menendez, left, and Congressman Frank Pallone, making like chimpmunks at the 2012 Belmar St. Patrick’s parade. Photo credit Charles Measley
A federal grand jury in Miami is investigating Senator Robert Menendez, examining his role in advocating for the business interests of his benefactor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, and the anonymous allegations that Melgen provided the senator prostitutes while they vacationed together in the Dominican Republic, according to a report in The Washington Post.
Menedez declined to say if he was aware of the investigation, but welcomed being probed.
“I welcome any review, because I believe, at the end of the day, that my actions have been appropriate,” the senator said. “And just as everything that gave rise to this was a smear campaign based on slanders that drove the original story, I believe that when any review reviews the facts, they will determine that I have acted appropriately at all times.”
Menendez told WaPo that he likely would have received an exemption from the Senate Ethics Committee for the two flights he took on Melgen’s private jet in 2010 but did not report until January of this year. He paid Melgen $58,500, which was between 32% and 87% of his net worth, for the flights he thinks the Ethics Committee would let him have gratis because it was the right thing to do.
He said he could have likely received an exemption from the Senate Ethics Committee based on his long friendship with Melgen. “But I said, ‘You know, it’s past, and the right thing at the moment is to pay for it,’ ” he said. “When I learned of the mistake, I did what was right and took care of it.”
One of the Dominican escorts who said she was stiffed by Senator Bob Menendez now says she was paid to read a fabricated script and that in truth she has never met Menendez, according to a Washington Post report. (hat tip Star Ledger)
The woman identified a lawyer who approached her and a friend to make the videotape, according to affidavits obtained by the Post. That man has in turn identified another lawyer who gave him a script for the tape and paid him to find women to fabricate the claims, the affidavits say.
The escort was one of two women who taped videos that seems to support a tipster’s allegations that Menendez had patronized prostitutes while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.
FBI agents conducting interviews in the Dominican Republic have found no evidence to back up the tipster’s allegations, according to two people briefed on their work.
Daily Caller, the site that first broke the Menendez prostitution story has yet to report on this latest development. Breitbart, the site that now employs the reporter who broke the story, posted a wire service piece on the escort’s latest claims.
Fresh from his trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez attended a Black History Month celebration in Trenton yesterday. During his remarks at the Shiloh Baptist Church, the senator invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and the Gospel of Luke to fend off the allegations of financial impropriety, prostitution and abuse of power, according to a report in The Star Ledger.
“Dr. King said that ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’” Mendez said, prompting calls of “alright” from some in the audience at the Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton. “In the end, I believe that justice will overcome the forces of darkness. Scriptures — scriptures tell us that he who ‘puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.’
“I have my hand on the plough,” he said, “and I am going to continue to look forward and to work to make that plough lead us to the fulfillment of educational, economic and health care opportunity in this country.”
You probably won’t read about it in The Star Ledger or The Asbury Park Press, unless The Washington Post or The New York Times picks it up.
The Daily Caller posted another Bob Menendez pay for play story last night. A women in her 30’s, a “professional escort” who travels between Miami and Boston to service her clients told DC that Menendez and several other U.S. senators paid her for sex.
A professional escort who travels the East Coast seeing clients in cities from Miami to Boston has identified a photo of Senator Bob Menendez as a man who paid her for sex. The woman, in her late 30s, told The Daily Caller prior to seeing Menendez’s photo that she had been paid to provide sexual favors to several U.S. senators, including a New Jersey Democrat and other politicians who are no longer living.
Menendez, she said, is “quite a hobbyist. He sees a lot of girls and doesn’t seem to have the skills to have a relationship.”
“Hobbyists,” she explained, are men who “‘hobby’ in seeing many girls, as many as they can,” referring to escorts who offer companionship and sexual favors in exchange for what they euphemistically call financial “donations.”
If the allegations are true, Menenedez has set a high standard for what should happen:
Maybe he was doing research in the Dominican Republic
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez is co-sponsoring the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act, a bill that would expand comprehensive sex education programs in schools, while ensuring that federal funds are spent on “effective, age-appropriate and medically accurate” programs, according to The Hill.
The Real Education for Healthy Youth Act aims to reduce unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and expand sex education programs at colleges and universities. The bill would also prevent federal funds from being spent on “ineffective, medically inaccurate” sex-education programs.
“Research has shown that programs which teach abstinence and contraception effectively delay the onset of sexual intercourse, reduce the number of sexual partners, and increase contraceptive use among teens,” Lee said. “These programs also reduce unintended pregnancy and the transmission of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.”
Senator Frank Lautenberg and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) are the primary sponsors of the legislation.
When Robert Menendez arrived in the U.S. Senate in 2006, he was a relative pauper in a chamber often called a millionaires’ club. The New Jersey Democrat ranked 97th out of 100 senators in terms of his personal wealth, according to financial records filed that year and compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
So Menendez’s decision last month to use his personal funds to reimburse a prominent political contributor $58,500 for two flights to the Dominican Republic came at a major cost. The repayment amounts to between 32 percent and 87 percent of the assets Menendez reported holding in bank accounts and stock, according to his latest financial-disclosure form, which was filed last year.
Menendez repaid Florida eye doctor and political donor Salomon Melgen only after his free flights aboard Melgen’s plane became public and the subject of a Senate ethics complaint. A local New Jersey Republican group filed a complaint last November, alleging the senator had broken Senate rules by “repeatedly flying on a private jet to the Dominican Republic, and other locations.” Menendez reimbursed Melgen the $58,500 two months later, on Jan. 4, according to his office.
Government watchdogs are dubious. They say Menendez’s financial situation adds fuel to questions about his motives and whether the free flights he accepted were a simple oversight.
“For a senator that’s not a Rockefeller, that’s real money,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center. “It kind of makes you wonder.… If he knew in advance that the trips were going to cost him $60,000, would he have done it?”
In the years after the Jack Abramoff scandal, which involved trips abroad for politicians, McGehee said it “stretches credibility” that Menendez was unaware he was receiving a gift while boarding a private flight to a Caribbean island. “You’re about to walk on a private plane, and you’re a public official—and that doesn’t occur to you?” she said.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another watchdog group, was even less charitable.
“He waited until he was caught to pay them back,” she said. “If you rob a bank—and you’re caught—you don’t say, ‘Take the money back and forget about it.’ ”
Surprisingly, 2010 congressional candidate Scott Sipprelle was leading the poll by a wide margin before we took it down this morning. Sipprelle had 39% if the votes, followed by State Senator Joe Kyrillos with 19%. Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Congressman Chris Smith each had 12%. Here are the results of the original poll.
We’ve added former Highlands Mayor Anna Little’s name to the mix because we had a couple of complaints that she was excluded.
Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ-8) told The Star Ledger that Cuban government could be out to smear Senator Bob Menendez’s good name.
“I won’t even be surprised if somehow the Cuban government is involved in this to try to damage Bob Menendez because he’s been so steadfast against the Castro government. He’s been a critic all his political life,” Sires said in a phone interview. “I would not be surprised if they are behind some of this stuff, some of these allegations. The Dominican Republic has a lot of relationships with Cuba.”
Hmmm. I wonder how Castro tricked Menendez into getting onto Salomon Malgen’s private plane. The Cuban spys must have put something in the senator’s cigar to make him forget to report the flights for two years.
As the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere, Sires is in the perfect position to get to the bottom of this and clear his friend Menendez’s name. I’m sure the committee chairman, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), would be very interested in conducting a hearing into how the Cuban government is interfering in the business of the United States Senate.
While they’re at it, they should also investigate Dominican port security.
The New York Times reported yesterday that Malgen, Menendez’s friend and campaign contributor whose Florida office was raided by the FBI this week, is an owner of a DR port security firm. Dominican officials have been resisting honoring their contract with the firm. Menendez has intervened with the State Department to try to get the $50 million contract honored.
Aides acknowledged on Wednesday that Mr. Menendez had spoken to State Department officials about the contract. And at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere last July, he questioned two administration officials — Francisco J. Sánchez, the undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, and Matthew Rooney, the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the State Department — about why the United States government had not been more aggressive on the issue. The senator said more security was needed given the drug trade on the island.
Maybe Cuba is trying to smuggle drugs, rum, sugar,cigars and teen aged girls into the United States through the Dominican Republic and have paid off the DR customs officials to stop the cargo from being screened by Malgen’s company.
Sires should get to the bottom of this. He has the power.