Over the last few years I have been repeatedly slimed for working on the Menendez story. Today I was vindicated. I’ll be adding more to the story in the coming days and weeks. If you would like to support our work here’s the link.
The Menendez scandals are one of the stories I’ve said to have gotten wrong which I got right. The other, of course, is the Cory Booker not living in Newark scandal.
Senator Robert Menendez, was, until January 2015, the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations position. In November 2012 I was brought in on a story about Senator Robert Menendez with then Daily Caller employee, Matthew Boyle. I was the gringo who spoke Spanish and I helped confirm some of the details about the resort where said affairs were said to have taken place. I got a contributor line and worked on the story elsewhere.
I joined the team late in the process and didn’t get to interview the hookers (sadly) but my sources in Latin America as well as with the FBI confirmed that Menendez often times flew down to the Dominican Republic with Salmon Melgen, an eye doctor whose office was later raided by the FBI and who is fingered as one of the greatest Medicare fraudsters in the history of the program.
Senator Menendez—for whom Melgen raised over a half million – ultimately admitted taking three illegal flights on Melgen’s private jet and has done multiple political favors for the donor, including an amendment changing the Medicare reimbursement rates. Menendez was forced to pay Melgen $58,500 from his personal savings for two flights – officially more than a third of his total income – and $11,250 from his campaign fund for one flight he said he did not discover until years later. Melgen has donated to Democrats with the lion’s share going to Menendez.
Both Melgen and Menendez remain under investigation by the FBI for a crooked $500 million ports deal. Menendez is still accused of using his position as head of the Senate Foreign committee to help Melgen get the lucrative deal. Indeed a former Menendez aide – Pedro Pablo Permuy – is the brains behind the controversial arrangement. Permuy, who works for Melgen’s company, ICSSI, was described by New York Times reporter Frances Robles on the case as a “total cipher” and a “really shady character” to me on the phone. Menendez’s relationships with Melgen and Melgen’s family matter because controlling the ports is the way to control the Dominican Republic.
In most Third World countries taxes are paid at the port city. There’s perhaps an even dark motive at work as well. Melgen’s uncle is Vincho Castillo, a former president of the National Council on Drugs who was known for bringing very few prosecutions for drug offenses. With the ports under Melgen’s family’s control there would be nothing to stop using the Dominican Republic as a staging ground for bringing narcotics into the United States. There are credible reports that the Caribbean nation is already serving that role.
The ports deal part of the Menendez story ran in the Washington Post. It was written by Carol Leonnig, a non-Spanish speaker who writes on government accountability related issues for the Washington Post. Leonnig is what’s known in the oppo world as a sponge. She’ll almost always run what you want her to run. Indeed her ports deal story that went after Menendez was actually given to her by one of my researcher friends. For the appearance of fairness she’ll often run a piece helping the very target she went after. This is what happened with her going after the Daily Caller’s story. She was recycling Menendez pushback.
I took to the pages of the Daily Caller with one of the site’s editors to answer her. It’s worth reprinting here:
The Post uncritically reported in March on claims in an affidavit filed on Jan. 25 by a woman who said she was paid to fabricate one of those allegations. No evidence has emerged that the woman is one of the two prostitutes interviewed on camera for a Nov. 1, 2012 story.
In addition, TheDC has been unable to confirm that the woman, who gave her name in the affidavit as Nexis de los Santos Santana, actually exists. She did not attend the March 4 press conference where the affidavit was first presented.
In the affidavit, Nexis de los Santos Santana’s voter ID number — what Dominicans call a cedula — was presented as a 10-digit number. Dominican cedulas have 11 digits.
Using the Dominican government’s online voter registration database to insert the digits 0 through 9 in each of the possible places where a digit may have been missing, TheDC was unable to identify any voters who reside in the Vista Catalina neighborhood of the city of La Romana — the area where the affidavit said de los Santana resides.
In addition, the street on which she claimed to reside does not exist in any of more than a dozen maps TheDC has examined. Multiple sources on the ground in the Dominican Republic have been unable to locate that street, where the affidavit said de los Santos resides in a house with no number.
TheDC attempted to contact Miguel Galván, a Dominican attorney who filed his own affidavit alongside the de los Santos document and vouched for her with the Dominican press. A secretary at his office promised to call TheDC with a number where Galván could be reached, but she did not provide it. Upon hearing it was TheDC requesting the information, she replied only, “Ohhh.”
The mysterious de los Santos, who said she was 23 years old, also does not appear to have social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Myspace.
By contrast, TheDC has been able to locate three social media profiles matching the names and descriptions of women named as Menendez’s prostitutes in the documents that surfaced online on January 23.
One of those profiles, a Facebook page belonging to a woman named Geraldine Garcia, vanished in February less than 24 hours after The Daily Caller sent a Facebook message asking if Garcia could help locate Dr. Melgen.
So essentially the Washington Post said we got the wrong prostitute by uncritically running a report from one of the most corrupt Latin American countries, a country that just so happens to be controlled by Menendez’s political allies. When we looked into the name of the woman she said she found there was no evidence of her ever existing. They even ran a story about a woman whose phony social security number they could have verified but chose not to. So much for fact checking at major publications!
Later Leonnig ran a story about how we were allegedly fed the information about Menendez’s prostitutes from Cuban intelligence. Her source? Two anonymous ones—from Menendez’s campaign office and an unnamed intelligence officer. How absurd. Menendez himself used weasel words to describe what he said was a spy novel like plot to “smear him.” He called for an investigation which he knows will never happen. The thinly sourced hit piece was obviously planted to distract from Menendez’s serious legal troubles.
The New York Times took an interest again but only after the Democrats loss the U.S. Senate and Menendez lost his Foreign Relations Chairmanship. Menendez is in trouble with yet another scandal—this time involving Ecuadorean wealthy donors whose visa ban he waived. The Ecuadorean donors had gotten in trouble for human smuggling.
Naturally I wanted to find out the answer about Menendez’s alleged mistreatment. And, as I have never written about before, I sent an ex law enforcement operative to the Dominican Republic to obtain a document form a police station that confirmed Menendez was under investigation for the sexual assault of underaged girls. The knowledge that I have this document in a safe deposit box probably explains why Menendez hasn’t sued me for libel. By the way, in a victory for crowd funding I raised the money to send that operative using the crowd-funding platform GoFundMe.com. I needed about $5,000 and wound up with a lot more which I poured back into the research and other projects.
Of course I turned over all of my research to the Bureau after I spoke with one of my contacts there. They could be pinched any day now. Menendez has reportedly spent over a million in his legal defense—not exactly the sort of money innocent men spend.
Both Melgen and Menendez have women problems. Melgen hired Svitlana Buchyk, a Ukranian escort, to work as his personal assistant and help him find young prostitutes to sleep with him at his donor’s home at the luxury resort of Casa de Campo. A long-time escort confirmed that Menendez had paid for sex. Menendez’s neighbor confirmed that he had a steady string of women with whom he was having sex at all hours of the night. His home life was a little strange, too. His daughter – a well known television host – is a gender studies major from Harvard. His ex-wife was a sex therapist.
Menendez also dated a married woman with strong ties to the Mexican government and gave her taxpayer money to be a part of a business incubator program at Monmouth University in New Jersey. Cecilia Reynolds ran a taxpayer-funded Nosotros newspaper, a low circulation magazine aimed at illegal immigrants. Despite the lack of success of the newspaper, she drives a Porsche Cayenne and traveled extensively with the senator. Reynolds had a history of sleeping with powerful men on her climb to the top, including the chief of police.
I later published naked photos of her on the beach in Puerto Rico on a taxpayer-funded junket that Menendez took. “When Menendez ran for re-election in November 2006, his campaign placed a full-page ad in Nosotros, the free Spanish-language newspaper Reynolds started in 2002,” the New York Post reported at the time. The corruption was so bad that Puerto Rico changed its laws allowing for public officials to use the Puerto Rican governor’s house.
Menendez’s investigation by the executive branch has presented an obvious conflict of interest and separation of powers problem. His legal troubles present separation of powers and national security concerns. The White House has massively controlled him throughout his time in office. No less a source than the New York Times called for Menendez to relinquish his control of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations position while he was under FBI investigation. It is something of a constitutional crisis to have one branch investigate another and use the threat of jail time to force that senator to do what you want him to.
You must ask yourself: If I was wrong about Menendez sleeping with under aged hookers why haven’t I been sued?
Today we know why. I was right about Menendez’s corruption.
For years I have been on my own arguing this while other entities tried to destroy me. Today I have been entirely vindicated.