What is known about the anonymous tipster who sparked the investigation on New Jersey Democratic Senator Robert Menendez, who is accused of engaging with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic? Very little, a report by Talkingpointsmemo.com (TPM) illustrates.
The tipster who sent a string of emails to a Washington D.C. liberal-leaning watchdog group and later to the Federal Bureau of Investigation remains unidentified.
A leaked correspondence between the agents and the tipster reveals that officials were frustrated with the tipster's unwillingness to meet in person. Instead, a slew of emails were exchanged between last spring and December.
Carrie Levine, research director at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit watchdog group, received an email from a sender who identified him or herself as Peter Williams, with the email firstname.lastname@example.org on April 9, 2012.
"Peter Williams" is likely a pseudonym, a play on late N.J. Senator Harrison “Pete” Williams Jr., who was convicted of nine counts of bribery and conspiracy in 1981.
Williams told Levine he or she traveled to the D.R. for "personal and business” matters and has "first-hand" knowledge of Menendez's inappropriate behavior.
"I have first-hand information regarding the reiterated participation of Senator Robert Menendez in inappropriate sexual activities with young prostitutes while on vacations in the Dominican Republic," Williams wrote. "At this juncture, I have known that since 2008, and more frequently during 2009 and 2010, Senator Menendez has traveled, by private jet owned by his friend and taxpayer Dr. Salomon Melgen, to the Dominican Republic where he stays at a house also owned by the doctor located in Casa de Campo."
Williams also provided Levine with names, ages, addresses, and phone numbers of other parties who were involved, claiming he or she had access to photos and videos proving the allegations were true.
Williams' only request was that Levine protect sources in the D.R. who "will be willing to testify in the U.S."
Over the past year, some of the emails leaked to the public in a series of reports published on conservative news website The Daily Caller.
all correspondences with the tipster on Jan. 30, in a form that was not redacted.
Executive Director Melanie Sloan told TPM that the non-profit had a hard time working with Williams.
"Over a period of time, [the tipster] refused to ever speak with us by phone, and then refused to speak with ABC by phone, and the FBI agent," Sloan said. "Those things make me cautious about it, but if it is a hoax, it is a very, very elaborate one."
In the emails, Williams claims to be an American citizen and the father of two adolescent girls.
Some of the language in Williams' emails is written awkwardly, suggesting that English might not be his native tongue.
Additionally, in one of the memos Williams forwarded to the non-profit from an alleged prostitute in the Menendez case, Williams is referred to twice as "Piter."
Miami-based FBI Special Agent Regino Chavez appears to grow frustrated with the tipster, the leaked e-mails show.
Chavez was unable to secure an in-person meeting with the tipster, and reportedly wrote, "I am holding off on traveling to the Dominican Republic until I hear from you."
The FBI has declined to comment on the authenticity of the e-mails.
In late 2012, media reports led a N.J. Republican group to file a complaint against the senator in November, accusing Menendez of breaking Senate rules by "repeatedly flying on a private jet to the Dominican Republic and other locations."
Separately, Menendez has also been accused of engaging in sexual acts with multiple prostitutes during his excursions to the D.R., one of who was allegedly only 16 years old at the time of the reported sexual encounter.
Menendez has repeatedly denied the accusations of using prostitutes
while on his trips.
He describes the accusations as "smears (from) right-wing blogs," and Menendez has since paid back donors nearly $60,000 for flights
When CNN asked Menendez why it took him so long to repay the donor
, Menendez said it was an oversight.
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