Despite being under a cloud of scrutiny in regards to donations from a close friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen, and bizarre and unconfirmed allegations of patronizing prostitutes, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) became the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Friday after Senator John Kerry officially resigned the chairmanship to become Secretary of State.
Last week, various media outlets were reporting on the FBI raid of Dr. Salomon Melgen’s medical office and connecting the dots to Senator Menendez. One report indicated that the investigation into Melgen’s affairs had to do with possible Medicare fraud and political corruption. Nobody has been charged with any crime, but the Senate ethics committee is looking to see if Senator Menendez inappropriately accepted gifts from Melgen.
On Monday, Menendez addressed the flights that he took on Dr. Melgen’s plane to the Dominican Republic, explaining the circumstances of how he reimbursed his donor. He also forcefully denounced the prostitution allegations that were originally written in the Daily Caller.
Menendez told CNN’s Dana Bash, “The smears that right-wing blogs have been pushing since the election and that is totally unsubstantiated. It’s amazing to me that anonymous, nameless, faceless individuals on a web site can drive that type of story into the mainstream. But that’s what they’ve done successfully. Now nobody can find them. No one ever met them. No one ever talked to them but that’s where we’re at. So the bottom line is all of those smears are absolutely false.”
The new Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee also received the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid over the weekend who expressed confidence that Menendez did nothing wrong.