- 1 Summary
- 2 Official charges and investigations
- 3 Lesser-known allegations of underage prostitution
- 4 Relationship to #Pizzagate
- 5 See also
The Department of Justice is investigating Bob Menendez, United States Senator of New Jersey and close Hillary Clinton associate, for claims that he engaged in illicit activities with underage girls in the Dominican Republic. As part of the same Department of Justice case, Menendez is currently undergoing investigation for assisting Salomon Melgen in procuring visas for Melgen's young sexual mistresses. In a separate, but possibly related incident, one of Menendez's interns was an illegal immigrant and wanted sex offender.
Bob Menendez is the senior United States Senator from the State of New Jersey and a member of the Democratic Party. First appointed to the U.S. Senate in January 2006, he was later elected Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in January 2013. In 2015, he was also ranked #1 on The Hudson Reporter's annual Power List of the "Fifty Most Powerful Political Figures in Hudson County".
On April 1, 2015, Menendez was officially indicted on federal corruption charges in the United States District Court, related to alleged favors he did for Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen and gifts he received from him, including campaign donations and private flights. Melgen was charged as well. Menendez has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Official charges and investigations
Federal investigations of Menendez
In November 2012, the conservative political news and opinion website Daily Caller published allegations that Menendez had contact with underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. The allegations were promoted by Republican Party operatives, who arranged interviews for two women accusing Menendez of patronizing prostitutes with ABC News and the Daily Caller. However, ABC News News and other news organizations such as the New York Times, and the New York Post declined to publish the allegations, viewing them as unsubstantiated and lacking credibility. One of the women who had accused Menendez stated that she had been paid to falsely implicate the Senator and had never met him. The Daily Caller says this woman was not interviewed for their story. Menendez's office described the allegations as "manufactured" by a "right-wing blog" as a politically motivated smear. On March 18, 2013, [the Washington Post reported] police in the Dominican Republic announced that three women had said they had been paid $300–425 each to lie about having had sex with Menendez.
On December 12, 2012 it was reported that the Senator's office had an unpaid intern volunteering who had let his visitor visa expire and who was a registered sex offender. The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement had been aware of the man as early as October 2012 but according to the Associated Press, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) instructed their Federal agents not to arrest the man until after Election Day. Menendez denied knowing about the allegation of the directive to delay the arrest and only recently learned of the arrest. According to two federal officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case, the intern was arrested in front of his home in New Jersey on December 6, 2012.
It was reported on March 14, 2013, that a federal grand jury in Miami was investigating Menendez regarding his role in advocating for the business interests of ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, one of his major donors. Menendez's efforts to push U.S. government officials to enforce a lucrative port security contract would have benefitted Melgen, as well as Pedro Pablo Permuy, a former national security adviser and senior legislative aide to Mr. Menendez. In 2012, Melgen's business had donated over $700,000 to Majority PAC, a political action committee supporting Democratic candidates; the PAC spent more than $582,000 on Menendez's behalf.
2015 federal indictment on corruption charges
On March 6, 2015, it was announced that the United States Department of Justice was preparing criminal corruption charges against Menendez in the United States District Court. On April 1, 2015, Menendez was indicted on corruption charges, accused of using his office to improperly benefit Salomon Melgen, a personal friend and an eye doctor in Florida and political donor, who offered the Senator an array of perks including trips on his private jet, three nights at a five-star Paris hotel, a round of golf at a private club in West Palm Beach and access to an exclusive Dominican resort - some of which Menendez didn't disclose on financial disclosure forms. Menendez also helped acquire visas for several of Melgen's girlfriends. The indictment charged Menendez with 14 counts, including bribery, conspiracy, and making false statements. Melgen was also charged in the case. Menendez voluntarily stepped down as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee after his indictment.
According to the Justice Department's indictment Menendez asked top State Department officials to pressure the Dominican Republic’s government into enforcing a port-security contract that would benefit Melgen’s company while at the same time Melgen was promising to give $60,000 to Menendez’s political campaign. The U.S. Government claims that Menendez, on or about May 16, 2012, met an assistant secretary at the State Department to discuss the security screening contract and on that day Melgen's family donated $40,000 to the New Jersey Democratic State "Victory" campaign and $20,000 to Menendez’s legal defense fund.
A report on the cable/satellite media channel Fox News Channel alleged that the indictment may be connected to his position on Iran, something which a report on The Washington Post called a conspiracy theory. Joe Scarborough of MSNBC had a different take, saying
What Bob Menendez did pales in comparison to this book.[referring to Clinton Cash] The Clintons have made $150 million over the past decade because of contacts they made during public service. I will sit back and let you ask the tough questions. I’m just curious, though, why aren’t the Clintons held to a standard that Bob McDonnell’s not held to. That Bob Menendez is not held to. That all of these congressmen that get thrown into jail for going on a — going to a Redskins game or going on a golf trip, compared to $150 million.
Lesser-known allegations of underage prostitution
The last article cited by Wikipedia in the page on Bob Menendez is the Dominican Republic Police's announcement on March of 2013. The page has not been updated to include a Department of Justice (DOJ) report from August 2015 where the DOJ backs the assertion that Menendez had illicit activities with underage girls, saying there was "corroborating evidence."
US News and World Reports provides the following:
Sen. Robert Menendez was not improperly investigated and indicted for accepting a “long-running stream of bribes,” federal prosecutors said Monday. And in a court filing rebuffing the New Jersey Democrat’s bid to overturn charges against him, prosecutors revisit uncharged allegations of underage prostitution that kicked off the federal probe. The filing, curiously, does not explicitly say the underage prostitution investigation came up empty. In fact, the probe is described as having turned up “corroborating evidence.”
The DOJ found evidence that Menendez engaged with the prostitutes in conjunction with Salomon Melgen (who is the other defendant in Menendez's criminal probe).
The court filing on the DOJ probe states:
As would be done in the normal course, the Government took responsible steps to investigate these serious criminal allegations, which were not so 'easily disprovable,' as the defendants suggest. Some eyewitnesses described a party attended by defendant Melgen in Casa de Campo—where defendant Melgen has a home and where defendant Menendez often visited—involving prostitutes. See Ex. 2 at 2; Ex. 3 at 1-2.. Furthermore, defendant Melgen has flown numerous young women from the United States and from other countries on his private jet to the Dominican Republic. Many of these young women receive substantial financial support from defendant Melgen. For example, defendant Melgen flew two young women—whom he met while they were performing at a South Florida 'Gentlemen’s' Club, see Ex. 4 at 1-2—on his private jet to his villa in Casa de Campo the day after paying one young woman $1,000 and the other young woman $2,000. See Ex. 5. Indeed, one of defendant Melgen’s pilots described 'young girls' who 'look[ed] like escorts' traveling at various times on defendant Melgen’s private jet. Ex. 6 at 9:7-16. Some young women who received substantial sums of money from defendant Melgen were in the same place as defendant Menendez at the same time. Moreover, when the allegations were first reported, defendant Menendez defended himself with public statements that are easily disprovable. Specifically, he repeated several times that he had only flown on defendant Melgen’s private jet on three occasions. That representation is demonstrably false. Confronted with corroborating evidence of such serious crimes, it would have been an inexcusable abdication of responsibility not to investigate these allegations.
The Daily Caller, in an article on August 25, 2015, wrote:
In further bad news for Menendez, the DOJ says the senator’s trip to the Dominican Republic was “during time frames in which one unidentified alleged minor victim specifically claimed to have had sex with him.”
The DOJ's stated location, Melgen's home at Casa de Campo, is also relevant to other areas of the #Pizzagate investigation, as both Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton were known to have stayed there. Casa de Campo also is a getaway to alleged pedophiles, such as Michael Jackson, and those who have seemingly assisted in defending child sex traffickers, like Donald Rumsfeld (who defended DynCorp's actions in Bosnia).
Relationship to #Pizzagate
Connection to Hillary Clinton
Menendez was a Hillary Clinton super delegate who served as her national campaign co-chair during her failed 2008 presidential campaign.[Additional Citation] Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton also stayed at the home of Salomon Melgen, Menendez's co-defendant in the DOJ's criminal probe, and at whose home underage prostitution may have taken place.
Menendez is also accused of staging a question to Hillary Clinton's benefit during the Benghazi hearings.
From CBS New York:
Citizens United claims an email between a senior aide to the Democratic presidential nominee and Chelsea Clinton reveal that the question was staged. The email reads, “We wired it that Menendez would provide an opportunity to address two topics we needed to debunk (her actions/whereabouts on 9/11 and these emails from Chris Stevens about moving locations)."
Connection to the Clinton Foundation
After receiving contributions to his relection campaign from the Isaías family (who was in legal trouble in Ecuador), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and his staff "made calls, sent emails and wrote letters" to Clinton and her Chief Of Staff, Cheryl Mills. From the New York Times article, Ecuador Family Wins Favors After Donations to Democrats, by Frances Robles:
Over the course of the next year, as various members of the Isaías family donated to Mr. Menendez's re-election campaign, the senator and his staff repeatedly made calls, sent emails and wrote letters about Ms. Isaías's case to Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Mills, the consulate in Ecuador, and the departments of State and Homeland Security.
Connection to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
Gwendolyn Beck accompanied Menendez to a 2010 White House state dinner. According to the Smoking Gun, Beck also was listed in sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's "Little Black Book" as a woman who gives "massages," which victim Virginia Roberts has said were "always sexual."
Connection to Casa de Campo
Connection to Salomon Melgen
Connection to Univision and owner Haim Saban
Univision acted to clear NJ Senator Bob Menendez of wrongdoing by speaking to one his alleged prostitutes, but spoke to a wrong woman who shared the same name. It is unclear that Univision acted intentionally, but the woman clearly did not match the physical description given by the initial tipster, as noted by the Miami Herald.