Back in November of 2012 and January 2013, the Daily Caller published a series of articles claiming that Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) was guilty of sleeping with under-age prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. The Daily Caller originally claimed to have received federal investigative documents from an anonymous source. It turns out that not only is the story false, the woman who made the original allegations against Menendez has come forward to say she was paid to make the accusation.
The Washington Post obtained affidavits from two women about who approached them to make the claims against the senator and a friend of his, a top donor named Dr. Salomon Melgin. The women say they were approached by a local Dominican lawyer. Under investigation, that Dominican lawyer identified another lawyer who paid the escort to read a script and coached her on what to say.
The individuals involved in the case, escort Nexis de los Santos Santana and lawyer Miguel Galvan believe they were both lied to by respective parties. Galvan told Santana that the video was needed for a divorce case. In turn, Galvan has said he was also lied to about the purpose of the video.
The account given by Santana was almost identical in phrasing to the accounts given by two other women who accused the senator of prostitution. The FBI will continue to investigate this case, though Santana and Galvan are now seeking immunity by the Dominican Republic court system.
Why would anyone seek to smear the senator and Melgin?
The original story appeared in The Daily Caller just days before the 2012 election. This has lead some to believe that it was done solely to miscredit him. The senator's relationship with Melgin plays a central role to this story and it is not without its own controversy.
Melgin and Menendez friendship spans decades. Since the 90's, Melgin has been a top donor to his campaigns, regularly flying the senator in his private jets to tropical locales. Their friendship has afforded both of them lucrative opportunities, one of which had to do with the Dominican Republic. Last week, the New York Times reported on Menendez's intervention on behalf of a private port security firm in the Dominican Republic.
In an effort to combat drug smuggling in the Dominican Republic, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had expressed interest in donating port security equipment to help protect Dominican ports. The senator's friend, Dr. Melgin, has personally benefited from a security contract with a private port security company that is worth $500 million.
Why Menendez felt the need to step in to protect this private contract, if not to help out his financial backer, is now at the core of questions being asked.
This particular controversy over prostitutes may be over for Menendez, but his problems may just be beginning.