Maybe if Menendez were a contestant on "The Bachelor," he'd finally command more widespread female attention. For their part, the Democratic women on Capitol Hill seem as uninterested in the alleged exploitation of underage prostitutes as they are in cozy donor deals, tax evasion and Medicare fraud.
Shady Menendez campaign contributor and BFF Salomon Melgen is the high-flying eye doctor at the center of the senior senator's ills. Melgen is owner of the Casa de Campo resort home where he and Menendez reportedly engaged in sexual romps with a bevy of Dominican escorts, including at least one minor girl. In his latest statement on the matter Monday, Menendez repeated his blanket denials of any wrongdoing, recycled his attack on conservative media reporting the story and labeled accounts of the alleged island sex parties "smears."
While his lips keep denying, his actions smack of lying. Last week, he sheepishly disclosed that he had just reimbursed Melgen in January of this year for nearly $60,000 in expenses tied to two of three private jet trips to the Dominican Republic in 2010 -- which he had never admitted taking before. Senate rules require prior approval of such private jet travel and luxury lodging. Senate rules also require financial disclosure of such gifts after approval.
Menendez ignored all the rules, blamed his staff and now wheedles that the matter simply "fell through the cracks."
But you know what didn't fall through the cracks? A special multimillion-dollar port security contract Melgen wanted with the Dominican Republic. The politically connected ophthalmologist -- who forked over $700,000 to help Menendez and other Democrats get re-elected last cycle -- has zero experience in port security. But Menendez used a Senate hearing last summer to lobby for enforcement of the contract Melgen's company has with the Dominican government.
Menendez also met with officials from the Obama State and Commerce departments on the matter, though he was careful not to mention Melgen by name. One of Menendez's longtime senior legislative aides, Pedro Pablo Permuy, will be in charge of operations, according to Melgen's cousin and legal mouthpiece Vinicio Castillo Seman. The contract is estimated to be worth up to $1 billion over the next 20 years, according to The Miami Herald.
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone