NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm commented on the new allegations against Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in a report on the NBC Nightly News on Saturday. Here’s a transcript:
Lester Holt: Back in this country, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey has come under scrutiny for his relationship with a wealthy Florida doctor who was a big donor to the Senator and to other Democratic causes. NBC’s national investigative correspondent, Michael Isikoff, has more tonight.
Senator Bob Menendez: This hearing…
Michael Iiskoff (voice-over): Just as Senator Bob Menendez takes over the powerful Senate foreign relations committee…
Senator Bob Menendez: …will come to order.
Michael Iiskoff: …the spotlight has come to this, FBI agents in Florida hauling away boxes from the offices of one of his top political fundraisers, Salomon Melgen. Law enforcement sources tell NBC News a wealthy eye doctor who, with his family has donated more than thirty eight thousand dollars to Menendez, is now the subject of a federal investigation into possible health care fraud and public corruption. Election records show that in addition to the thirty eight thousand dollars in contributions, Melgen’s eye clinic, starting last June, pumped seven hundred thousand dollars into a Democratic super PAC that spent heavily to support the re-election of Menendez. In August, Menendez pressed federal officials to back a port security contract in the Dominican Republic that could earn millions for one of Melgen’s companies.
Ken Boehm: It sure looks like the Senator is using his office to financially benefit the company that is owned by his biggest contributors.
Michael Iiskoff: Menendez’ office says the Senator’s interest was only in clamping down on drug trafficking. The Senator also took flights aboard Melgen’s private jet to a resort in the Dominican Republic and never reported them on his financial disclosure form, triggering this ethics complaint from New Jersey Republicans. Menendez’ office this week acknowledged the Senator wrote a fifty eight thousand five hundred dollar personal check to Melgen in January to reimburse him for the flights two months after the complaint was filed.
Bret Keppel: It’s either a very significant oversight or a willful failure to disclose, and that’s what the Senate Ethics Committee will be looking at.
Michael Iiskoff: In the statement, the Senator’s office also refuted other allegations made on a conservative web site that Menendez met with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. Those allegations, his office says, are “manufactured, politically motivated, and false.” Menendez brushed aside the questions.
Senator Bob Menendez: Comments should go to my office. These are nameless, faceless, anonymous allegations.
Michael Iiskoff: A well-placed source tells NBC News Senate Democratic leaders have privately huddled about the potential fallout but, so far, they’re publicly sticking by Menendez. And Melgen’s lawyer said in an e-mail, “We are confident that Dr. Melgen has acted appropriately at all times.”