Although New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez maintains that his trips to the Dominican Republic on a private jet were not to procure underage prostitutes, he’s agreed to pay his shady doctor friend/donor back for them anyway. After the FBI raided the Florida office of Dr. Salomon Melgen, the Miami Herald reported that Menendez had “quietly sent a $58,500 personal check to Melgen’s company to reimburse the cost of two flights” earlier this month, three years after the last trip. “This was sloppy,” said Menendez chief of staff Dan O’Brien to NBC. “I’m chalking it up to an oversight.”
The FBI is investigating Melgen both for Medicare misconduct and his ties to Menendez in parallel investigations, the Herald reports. For his part, the senator said in a statement yesterday, “Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.”
Out of the three trips Menendez took on the Melgen Express, one was for fund-raising and was properly reported to the FEC, while the other two were categorized as personal. The Senator could have used the “friendship exemption” (a real rule!) and reported the flights to his colleagues, but instead opted to pay, with his chief of staff sighing, “We can assume the Senate Ethics Committee is looking at the allegation.” Because five-figure checks written after the fact are what is known in the business as a red flag.