UPDATE January 31, 9:45 AM EST: Melgen’s lawyer issued the following statement to the press: “The government has not informed Dr. Melgen what its concerns are. However, we are confident that Dr. Melgen has acted appropriately at all times.”
UPDATE, January 30, 10:45 PM EST: NBC Latino reported that last month Senator Menendez reimbursed Salomon Melgen $58,000 for two private jet trips. Menendez’s chief of staff said the following: “This was sloppy. I’m chalking it up to an oversight.”
This afternoon NBC News (via NBC Latino) reported that the office of eye doctor Salomon Melgen, a top fundraiser for New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D) and the chairman/founder of the Miami-based VOXXI news site, was raided last night by FBI agents.
According to the NBC story, “FBI agents were seen carrying out boxes of materials” from Melgen’s office. The story also confirmed that an investigation is occurring, but details about the investigation have not been shared. A recent story by the conservative site The Daily Caller reported the FBI had opened an inquiry regarding allegations that Menendez took repeated trips to the Dominican Republic with Melgen. The DC also published unconfirmed allegations that Melgen helped Menendez procure underage Dominican prostitutes.
NBC also published a statement from Menendez’s office:
Dr. Melgen has been a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years. Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen’s plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately. Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.
The VOXXI site says that Melgen is “a national Hispanic leader, world-renowned ophthalmologist and retina specialist, philanthropist and a lifelong advocate for empowering Latinos to achieve the American Dream.” We reached out to VOXXI late this morning for comment, and they indicated that they will share a statement from Melgen later this evening. Once we receive that statement, we will publish it.
In addition, Newsday reported the following about Melgen:
Melgen has an outstanding IRS lien of $11.1 million for taxes owed from 2006 to 2009, according to records filed with the Palm Beach County recorder’s office. A previous IRS lien for $6.2 million was released in 2011.
Despite those financial problems, Melgen and his family have contributed at least $357,000 to candidates and committees since 1998, according to Florida and federal campaign records. Of that, the Melgens have contributed about 9 percent to Menendez’s federal campaigns.
Melgen also owns a private CL-600 Challenger plane through one of his West Palm Beach-based companies, and frequently flies between South Florida and Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, where he is from.