Menendez' Bill Could Have Aided Donor's Investment
In recent weeks, Menendez has acknowledged other dealings with Melgen. Menendez was compelled to reimburse $58,000 for two flights aboard Melgen's private jet that he had previously failed to report, prompting scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee. Menendez also acknowledged that his office had contacted U.S. health agencies in 2009 and 2012 to question their billing practices and policies amid a dispute between Melgen, an eye specialist, and federal health authorities. FBI agents in January searched Melgen's offices in Florida and seized files as part of a criminal investigation.
Menendez also raised concerns last year with state and Commerce Department officials about the Dominican Republic's reluctance to enforce a port security contract with a company that Melgen partly owns.
The New Jersey senator won a measure of validation Monday when a woman in the Dominican Republic acknowledged that she had fabricated her earlier allegations of providing Menendez with prostitution services. A Dominican lawyer, Vinicio Castillo Seman, released a sworn statement from the woman denying she had sex with Menendez and saying she had never met him. Castillo had been accused of hosting outings on his yacht where he, Menendez and Melgen had relations with the woman and a second woman.
In Washington, Menendez dismissed the earlier allegations as "smears." ''I've always said that these are all false," he said. Melgen's lawyer, Kirk Ogrosky, denounced the allegations as "a campaign of lies."A Washington-based watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, had said it received emails starting in April 2012 alleging Menendez used the services of prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. In the matter of Menendez' support of the NAT GAS Act and Melgen's investment in the GFS natural gas engine conversion company, the senator's spokeswoman told the AP that Menendez personally had no known discussions with either Melgen or others associated with the firm about the legislation or its impact on the company.
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