A query by Maynard
The media have reporting how Marco Rubio drank a bottle of water. But I’m wondering whatever became of Sen. Menendez?
There were those strange allegations that Menendez patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. A sex scandal makes headlines, so that’s the part we hear about. And it seemed serious enough to merit and FBI investigation; however I take it no smoking gun has yet turned up.
Headlines notwithstanding, this isn’t a sex story. The vital question is the issue of big money corruption. But we’ve got to dig through the muck to get to that part.
The private jet trips to the Dominican Republic, and the violation of Senate rules, are now on the record.
New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez has written a personal check of $58,000 to reimburse a donor for two round-trip flights he took on a private jet to the Dominican Republic.
Menendez’s office said Thursday the three-year delay in paying for the plane trips with fundraiser and friend Dr. Salomen Melgen was an “oversight.”…
It started last year when a Daily Caller article (11/5/12) alleged:
A high-level government official from the Dominican Republic told The Daily Caller that New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez and wealthy campaign donor Dr. Salomon Melgen have been having sex parties on the Caribbean nation for years.
“As far as Bob Menendez is concerned he has a very good life there,” the official said during an in-person interview with TheDC. “He likes sexual things.”
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he fears retribution from powerful people connected to Menendez and Melgen, has direct knowledge of the goings-on at Melgen’s private villa in the luxurious Dominican Casa de Campo resort. He said Menendez travels with Melgen to the property at least three times per year.
When Menendez is there, he said, they have parties in the three-bedroom villa located in Casa de Campo’s Batey neighborhood. The parties feature “sex, hookers and drinking.”…
So the initial allegation was that Melgen provided Menendez with accommodation and prostitutes. What did the Senator have to say about that at the time?
A Menendez spokeswoman did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment for this article.
And then it turned out that there was at least a germ of truth in the report, in that Menendez broke Senate rules and has now paid $58,000 to reimburse Melgen’s hospitality.
So Menendez first tried to shrug the thing off, and later admitted to a portion of it. Does this evasive behavior suggest it may all be true?
Menendez wrote a check for $58,000 in hopes of closing the books on this transgression. According to OpenSecrets, his total net worth is between $317,000 and $680,000. That’s a darn big check to cough up when you’re said to be a man of limited means. The claim of “an oversight” is the Senate version of “the dog ate my homework”.
But I guess personal net worth means nothing in the world of big money politics. You get a glimpse of the big picture in this Time article on “Bob Menendez’s Very Bad Week”:
Melgen and his family have given Menendez, and groups working to help elect Menendez, more than $750,000 in the last two election cycles. It’s easy to paint a picture of favoritism and patronage — and to a certain degree that’s expected: donors aren’t giving all that money expecting nothing in return….
…The charges against Melgen, who has proclaimed his innocence, are serious. He’s being investigated for more than $8 million in Medicare fraud for claiming up to four times the usual worth of a vial of eye medication. Melgen has paid that money back to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid but is looking to reclaim it as he says that he abided by the guidelines. Still, a CMS agent participated in the FBI raid last week, so clearly there are Medicare issues that remain unresolved. Menendez twice in 2009 and 2012 called CMS about Melgen’s case, though Menendez’s office says he was expressing concerns that CMS guidelines were not clear and led to misunderstandings – not lobbying or pressuring the agency on Melgen’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Menendez encouraged Melgen to partner with a former staffer of his, Pedro Pablo Permuy, to buy into a U.S. security company that held a contract to screen cargo coming in from Dominican ports, according to the New York Times. Some business interests have questioned the contract, worth $500 million, in part because of Melgen’s lack of port security experience. In his capacity at the time as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Menendez pushed the Dominican government to honor the contract and enforce the deal…
Another Time article about Melgen, “The Man Behind Robert Menendez’s Troubles”, explains in detail the big money deal that doesn’t smell quite right. (For all our gripes with the mainstream media, we should give credit to Time for publishing this.)
…A decade ago, the Dominican government signed a deal with a private company to provide more X-ray machines. But due to high costs and claims that the deal gives the company a monopoly, it’s been held up in court; the machines were never installed. That’s left in limbo the contract, worth upwards of $500 million over 20 years, and the company that now holds it, Florida-based Boarder Support Services, which was formed by Melgen.
Enter Menendez, who soon began pushing U.S. officials to force action on the stalled contract, even as he flew on Melgen’s private jet and received at least $700,000 in campaign contributions from Melgen…
So Melgen is a big donor and a big player who will end up either as a master of the universe or a jailbird, depending upon how the political winds blow. And Melgen and Menendez have had a mutually beneficial relationship going on for a while now.
Anybody remember the old aphorism? They go to Washington to do good, but they end up doing well.
Can we see the picture of Rubio with a water bottle again please?