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Corrupting We Will Go ^ | February 8, 2013 | Mona Charen

Posted on 02/08/2013 7:36:31 AM PST by Kaslin

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey is having a bad month. He recently wrote a check to a large donor for nearly $60,000 reimbursing him for the generous gift of trips on a private jet. The paperwork had "fallen through the cracks," an aide explained. Under investigation by the FBI regarding allegations that he engaged underage prostitutes during visits to the Dominican Republic (the destination of those jet trips), the senator was also recently embarrassed when it emerged that an 18-year-old intern on his staff who was helping with immigration issues was 1) an illegal alien and 2) a registered sex offender. Two AP stories suggest that the young man's arrest was delayed by federal officials until after Nov. 6, when Menendez was safely reelected to a second 6-year term.

None of this came up when Menendez, the presumptive new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was interviewed on ABC's "This Week." Martha Raddatz confined her questions to immigration and such. The press often claims that scandal stories are interesting chiefly if they involve "hypocrisy" -- as when a senator who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act was caught attempting something in an airport men's room.

The definition of hypocrisy is slippery. Though misbehavior in men's rooms is never a good thing, it is theoretically possible to be homosexual (closeted or otherwise) and genuinely support the Defense of Marriage Act.

Maybe the Craig story was too salacious for the press to resist -- Craig was a Republican after all. But here's the confusing part: Why is it not hypocrisy for a liberal Democrat to use underage prostitutes? Are Democrats in favor of this kind of exploitation of girls?

The non-lewd aspects of the Menendez unspooling scandal are actually more important because they illuminate the absolutely inescapable corruption that accompanies the expansion of government.

To its credit, The New York Times has reported that the New Jersey senator was the guest of Dr. Solomon Melgen on those visits to the Dominican Republic. Melgen, a generous donor to Menendez's campaigns and to the Democratic Party -- he contributed more than $700,000 to a PAC aimed at helping Democrats win the Senate -- recently purchased a company that provides port security. His company had apparently offered its services to a reluctant Dominican Republic. The Dominican customs inspector described the contract, estimated to be worth $500 million over 20 years, as "exorbitant." The American Chamber of Commerce on the island opposed the deal. Melgen, an ophthalmologist, is nobody's idea of a security specialist. The Chamber's executive vice president told the Times that Melgen "has, to my knowledge, no previous experience in port security."

Enter Senator Menendez. He reportedly asked officials at the State Department to lobby Dominican officials to approve the deal. Menendez's chief of staff explained that the senator did nothing unethical. He has always "fought for U.S. companies that are not being treated fairly or have issues pending in other countries."

Except it also emerges that another key beneficiary of the port deal would be Senator Menendez's aide and close associate of 20 years, Pedro Pablo Permuy. Permuy was tapped to run the security company's operations.

It's certainly possible that Senator Menendez always speaks up for abused American companies that aren't getting fair treatment in other countries. But then, there are other explanations for his behavior. Consider that in 2009, according to the Washington Post, Menendez intervened in a federal audit of Dr. Melgen. Melgen was being investigated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for fraud. Menendez protested to investigators that the billing rules were ambiguous.

Last week, the FBI descended upon Dr. Melgen's offices in Miami and carted off dozens of boxes of documents. The FBI may be investigating Medicare fraud, the ports deal, the underage prostitutes or matters we have not yet heard about.

What the story illustrates is the way government power is bent to private purposes. President Obama entered office boasting that lobbyists would be prohibited from serving in his administration -- thus keeping corruption at bay. In fact, the White House has freely granted waivers for the people it wanted, and at least 374 Obama administration officials have cycled through the revolving door.

But as the Menendez story shows, the presence of lobbyists in key posts is beside the point when elected officials misuse their power for friends and cronies. Barring lobbyists is window dressing. Corruption is the handmaiden of government. Remember that on Tuesday evening when the president sings its praises.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial

1 posted on 02/08/2013 7:36:32 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

I ask myself-—self? What is in the Dominican Republic that is so great that I would go there over and over except for legal sex and young girls.

Self Never ghave me an answer.

2 posted on 02/08/2013 7:49:25 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Kaslin

“they illuminate the absolutely inescapable corruption that accompanies the expansion of government”

And the also-inescapable hubris and feeling of entitlement and invulnerability that come from being a member of The Ruling Class.

3 posted on 02/08/2013 7:53:55 AM PST by bigbob
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To: bigbob
Menendez said he didn’t know his aide of 20 years was to head the Port Xray deal he was intervening on behalf of his good buddy the Doctor. That is more unbelievable than his saying the repayment for the flights to the Dominican slipped through the cracks. It appears he was set to get a hefty return if the port deal was pushed through.
4 posted on 02/08/2013 9:17:04 AM PST by spawn44 (MOO)
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To: All
Menendez coughed up $58,000 about 1/3 of his savings for private plane trips taken years ago---Sen Menendez's frequest assertions are implausible on their face. He claims his failure to repay Melgen was "sloppy" or an "oversight." His annual salary is $174,000. Menendez planned to fly Melgen's private jet and pay $58,000---a big percentage of his net worth? It is obvious that he never intended to pay Melgen back.

Capitol Hill Spring break flight records suggest fourth unpaid Menendez flight

Flight records obtained by Breitbart News show Dem donor Dr. Salomon Melgen’s private jet was in New Jersey near Sen. Bob Menendez’s home on April 8, 2012--Easter Sunday last year. From there, it flew straight to the Dominican Republic.

Menendez and his staff have not answered when asked repeatedly whether the Senator was on that flight. They also have not provided any accounting as to where Menendez was on Easter Sunday, either. The flight records show Melgen’s plane was in the Dominican Republic on a frequent basis.

The jet was there late March until April 2, at which point Melgen’s plane flew from La Romana International airport in the Dominican Republic to West Palm Beach. The flight path records, compiled by FlightAware, show Melgen’s plane stayed in West Palm Beach for a few days after that. Melgen lives in the West Palm Beach area.

On April 6, 2012, Melgen’s plane left Palm Beach International airport for The Dominican Republic’s La Romana International Airport again. It stayed on the ground there for half an hour--after landing at around 6 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time. The plane took off and flew back to West Palm Beach that evening.

It is unclear why the plane flew to the Dominican Republic and back that night. After landing back in West Palm Beach at around 9:22 Eastern Daylight Time on the evening of April 6, 2012, it sat in its hangar for a day. Then, on the morning of April 8, 2012--Easter Sunday--at 8:56 a.m., the plane left Palm Beach International airport. At 11:30 a.m., it landed at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.

Teterboro is an airport meant for private jets and chartered flights, and is a 20-minute cab ride from Menendez’s New Jersey home. After landing at Teterboro at 11:30 a.m. EDT, the plane sat for about an hour and ten minutes--just enough time to wait for someone to reach the airport from about 20 minutes away. At 12:50 p.m., Melgen’s plane took off for Las Americas International Airport in the Dominican Republic.

Menendez’s public schedule--available on his Senate website--puts him in New Jersey the night before that flight, at an Easter Musical entitled God’s Masterpiece at Roselle Park Middle School in Roselle Park, New Jersey. Menendez does not appear to have had any public events until several days later. The Senate was not in session from March 31 until April 15.

It is during this timeframe that two Dominican Republic prostitutes alleged, in interviews with this reporter who broke the story for The Daily Caller before joining Breitbart News after the election, that they were under-paid to have sex with Menendez. The activity allegedly took place at Casa de Campo, a luxurious resort in the Dominican Republic around Easter-time in 2012. Casa de Campo is about an hour's drive from Las Americas airport. While Menendez denies soliciting prostitutes in the Dominican Republic--including during that alleged Easter Sunday incident--he and his staff have not yet offered any alternate explanation as to where the Senator was on Easter.

If Sen. Menendez was on that plane during Easter weekend--or any other time other than those three trips to which he and his staff have already admitted--he and his staff will have misled the American people. “Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen’s plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately,” Menendez’s staff admitted last week.

When Menendez admitted to the other three flights, he paid Melgen’s company back for two of them--a total of $58,500. That amount--paid via a check from Menendez’s personal account--is between 8.6 and 18.5 percent of his entire net worth, and a little more than a third of his annual salary, a huge chunk of cash from the senator’s pocket.

Paul Brubaker, a Menendez spokesman based in New Jersey, told a local news reporter that the reason why the Senator paid for these trips “out of his own pocket” and not through his official office or campaign accounts was so they did not have to be reported to official authorities.


5 posted on 02/08/2013 11:50:38 AM PST by Liz
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