Salomon Melgen, the wealthy South Florida eye doctor and investor at the center of the controversy over Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and prostitutes in the Dominican Republic, courted other leading politicians, including President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., Politico reports
There is no evidence at this time that either Obama or Reid inappropriately sought to aid Melgen.
Melgen briefly shot the breeze with Obama at a 2010 fundraiser he co-hosted benefiting the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Menendez chaired at the time.
Obama posed with his arm around Melgen in a photo taken at the fundraiser.
“Everybody gets a photo-op, but the host committee just gets a few extra minutes to meet with the president,” said Seema Sharma, who hosted the fundraiser at her family home in the Washington suburbs, according to Politico.
Melgen “shook hands with Obama and told him he was from Florida,” Sharma said.
Sharma labeled the exchange “just small talk, chitchat.”
But she dismissed the possibility that anything more took place.
“There’s just not enough time to have a detailed discussion or any lengthy conversation,” she said, Politico reported.
Melgen also tried cozying up to Harry Reid.
Melgen flew Reid on his company’s private plane last summer to Boston and back for a Majority PAC event.
Majority PAC, a super PAC closely associated with Reid that benefits Senate Democratic candidates, reported reimbursing Melgen’s ophthalmology company $4,160 for “travel” last summer.
That filing does not specify who did the traveling, when it occurred or the destination, but Reid’s office confirmed that payment was for Reid’s trip to Boston.
“Sen. Reid took a flight that was in full compliance with FEC rules and fully paid for,” said his spokesman Adam Jentleson.
Melgen also donated $700,000 last year to Majority PAC, which spent $582,500 supporting Menendez’s successful 2012 reelection campaign.
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