The FBI on Tuesday raided the Florida office of an eye doctor linked to reports that Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez traveled to the Caribbean to use underage prostitutes, according to The Miami Herald
and other news organizations.
The New Jersey senator has repeatedly rejected the prostitution allegations, calling them “fallacious.”
Agents hauled away evidence from Dr. Salomon Melgen's office in West Palm Beach in several vans, reported the Herald, which said the doctor owes the IRS $11.1 million for taxes from 2006 to 2009. It said a previous IRS lien for $6.2 million was released in 2011.
It is not clear if the raid is tied to the prostitution allegations, Melgen’s finances, or both. Records show that Melgen has donated to Menendez and several other politicians of both parties.
Melgen was first linked to Menendez in news accounts in November, when The Daily Caller reported that the senator allegedly had sex with underage prostitutes at the doctor’s mansion in the Dominican Republic. Menendez has admitted flying on Melgen’s private plane.
Melgen has an outstanding IRS lien of $11.1 million for taxes owed from 2006 to 2009, according to records filed with the Palm Beach County recorder’s office, the Herald reported. A previous IRS lien for $6.2 million was released in 2011.
Despite those financial problems, Melgen and his family have contributed at least $357,000 to candidates and committees since 1998, according to Florida and federal campaign records. Of that, the Melgens have contributed about 9 percent to Menendez’s federal campaigns.
The Daily Caller said two prostitutes, in videotaped interviews with the help of a translator, maintained they were promised $500 to sleep with the lawmaker but were ultimately paid just $100.
The Caller said it received additional confirmation from a Dominican government official who told the website that Menendez frequents “sex, hookers and drinking” parties in the Caribbean nation.
On Jan. 25, the website followed up with new allegations, contained in documents that a tipster published online, suggesting that the FBI was actively investigating the matter and that some of the prostitutes Menendez slept with were under 18.
On Monday afternoon, Menendez, a divorced father of two, whose parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba, told a Daily Caller reporter that he was “not going to respond to the fallacious allegations of your story.”
But with Menendez, 59, due to take over as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, succeeding John Kerry, who has now been confirmed as secretary of state, there could be a full investigation into his conduct. Menendez also is a key player in Democratic efforts at immigration reform.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told journalists, “I always consider the source” of allegations, referring to The Daily Caller as “a source that has brought up a lot of non-issues.”
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