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.
Kyrillos calls on U.S. Senator to defend his 20 year record in Washington
Is Bob Menendez planning to dance back into office without defending his record and debating his opponent?
That seems to be his strategy so far. Menendez refused to accept a written challenge to debate from GOP nominee Joe Kyrillos last month. This morning, the Kyrillos campaign announced that Menendez is also ignoring media and academic invitations to debate. Menendez has not responded to then following invitations according to the Kyrillos release:
1. League of Women Voters/WPVI-TV, WABC-TV, and Univision
2. The Record/FIOS 1 News
3. Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show/WNYC Radio and NJPR AM Radio
4. William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey/ NJTV
5. Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey/Jewish Standard News
6. The Uribe Society/Hudson County TV
“One of us will be the next United States Senator from New Jersey,” said Senator Joe Kyrillos. “New Jerseyans need to know our position on the issues before, not after the election. I’m ready to talk about my record of saving New Jersey taxpayers $11.9 billion in new taxes and bringing bipartisan reform to Trenton. I’m proud of my record and it’s time for Senator Menendez to stop running from and defend his.”
MMM left a voice mail for Menendez 2012 Communications Director Paul Brubaker asking if Menendez would be accepting any of these invitations. Brubaker has yet to respond. Nor has he called back, as promised, for comment on the polls that were released last week.
Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney for President, 51%-44%, and Bob Mendendez leads Joe Kyrillos for U.S. Senate, 50%-40% among likely New Jersey voters, according to a Quinnipiac poll released this morning.
Quinnipiac says that this is their first likely voter survey and it can’t be compared to eariler polls of registered voters. The university surveyed 1471 likely voters between August 27 and September 2. They did not disclose the partisan breakdown of those responding to the survey which they say has a margin of errror of +/-2.6%.
The methodology of the Quinnipiac poll differs from that of the internal poll released yesterday by the Kyrillos campaign in that Quinnipiac randomly calls phone numbers, land lines and cells, and the respondants self identify as voters or likely voters by the way they answer the questions. The Kyrillos pollster called a data base of known voters. Kyrillos’s poll showed him trailing Menendez by 4% with 65 days to go before the election.
“Our poll shows we are within 4 points of Bob Menendez and gaining and the Quinnipiac University poll shows positive movement as well,” said Kyrillos Campaign Manager Chapin Fay. “That’s because Joe Kyrillos has a plan to create jobs and opportunity for New Jersey families, while Bob Menendez is proposing more of the same- more debt, more spending and more job killing regulations.”
Menendez 2010 Communications Director Paul Brubaker still hasn’t called me back from yesterday when I asked him to comment on the Kyrillos poll.