Embattled U.S. Senator Bob Menendez reimbursed his friend and campaign contributor, West Palm Beach eye doctor Salomon Melgen $58,500 for two flights to the Dominican Republic on Melgen’s private jet almost three years after the flights took place, according to reports in The Star Ledger and The Daily Caller.
Menendez’s spokesman Paul Brubaker told the Ledger that the senator, prompted by the ethics complaint filed by NJ State Senator Sam Thompson last November, reviewed his travel and discovered that he should have paid Melgen for an August 2010 flight between Florida and the Dominican Republic and a September 2010 flight from Teterboro to the DR. Menendez paid Melgen $58,500 for the flights on January 4, 2013.
Menendez’s chief of staff, Dan O’Brien told NBC News that the over two year gap in paying for the flights was an office mistake, according to Daily Caller.
“This was sloppy,” O’Brien conceded about two 2010 flights. “I’m chalking it up to an oversight.”
No one has reported what, if anything, Menendez reimbursed Melgen for his food, lodging and party favors on the trips. Senate rules prohibited members from accepting gifts valued at more the $250 without prior permission from the ethics committee. We’d call Brubaker, but he stopped returning our calls last summer during the senator’s campaign.
Menendez finally denied he had sex with prostitutes while in the Dominican Republic, saying the charges were manufactured by a right-wing blog. Presumably he’s referring to Daily Caller.
FoxNews reported last night that Menendez cleared his Washington schedule yesterday. He cancelled a meeting with Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew and skipped John Kerry’s fare well speech on the Senate floor.
On the home front however, it was politics as usual for Menendez. Yesterday afternoon he sent out a fundraising email asking his supporters to thank Hillary Clinton for her years of service.
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