Skip to comments.Sen. Menendez defends his relationship with political donor Melgen
Posted on 02/09/2013 7:33:17 AM PST by Libloather
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) defended his relationship with Florida doctor and political donor Salomon Melgen in an interview with Univision on Friday, saying he didnt do anything on his friends behalf that he doesnt regularly do for others.
Melgen, a close friend of Menendezs, reportedly overbilled the U.S. government by almost $9 million in Medicare payments, inviting a federal audit.
Menendez acknowledged contacting officials to complain that the Medicare billing rules were unclear, but the senator denied that his close ties to Melgen had anything to do with him raising the issue.
The fact that someone is a donor does not do away with the right or the opportunity to consider whether something is correct or incorrect, to ask questions, raise concerns, he said.
Univision reporter Lourdes Meluzá pushed Menendez on whether he was aware of the conflict between Melgen and the federal government when he contacted officials to complain of murky billing rules.
Menendez said at the time he raised the issue it was merely an administrative process, not a full-blown inquiry into Melgens alleged overbilling.
I simply knew that he was part of an administrative process, Menendez said. I dont know the amount, I dont know the rest. But the problem is not about interfering in an administrative issue. The issue is understanding a policy thats confusing.
Menendez argued that he frequently receives petitions from citizens to address deficiencies in the Medicare system and that its very normal for us to analyze it and decide if there is an incorrect policy and to raise questions when appropriate.
Menendez said he has done the same for other companies as well.
Theres a big difference between questioning Medicare policy and the confusing situations that arise regarding various regulations and different positions taken by Medicare, and interfering in a case, Menendez said. Its absurd for anyone to think that I could interfere in a case to change the conclusion of that case.
The Miami Herald has reported on an exchange from a July hearing of the Foreign Relations Committee in which Menendez referenced a contract between the government of the Dominican Republic and a company owned by Melgen, urging U.S. officials to pressure Dominican authorities to fast-track the contract.
Menendez said allegations he was interceding solely because Melgen was a friend and donor were misplaced.
Thats your interpretation, not mine, Menendez said, arguing that it was the policy he was pushing and that he was unconcerned with who ultimately won the contract, as long as it went to someone.
A New York Times report has also tied a former assistant of Menendezs to Melgens company.
No one has bought me, No. 1, Menendez continued. No one, ever. In the 20 years Ive been in Congress, never has it been suggested that that could even be possible. Never in 40 years of public life. So Im not going to reach this moment in my life to make that a possibility.
The Senate Ethics Committee is also looking into claims that Menendez acted improperly by flying to the Dominican Republic on Melgens private plane. Menendez recently reimbursed Melgens company $58,500, the cost of the two trips, from personal funds after a complaint filed by the New Jersey Republican Party alleged that the senator had failed to account for some flights.
Melgen contributed to Menendezs campaign and took him on at least three trips to the Dominican Republic aboard his private plane in 2010.
Menendez said the issue arose over confusion between his personal reelection campaign and his role as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
When I found out that two had not been paid for by any campaign source, I paid for them myself, he said.
Melgens offices in Florida was raided by the FBI earlier this month. It is unclear whether the FBIs investigation of Melgen is targeting him for outstanding back taxes, his political contributions to Menendez and other lawmakers, or allegations over engaging with prostitutes.
Menendez has strongly denounced allegations reported by the conservative Daily Caller that he solicited prostitutes while visiting the Dominican Republic. In the Univision interview, he said he was addressing the issue for the last time.
Those are lies intended to slander me, and theyre completely ... not only absurd, but completely false, he said.
The ol' impeached *Squirt defense.
“...twisting slowly in the wind.”
What’s up with New Jersey? Mendendez, Corzine, Lautenberg, Christie, “The Boss”, etc. What a cast of characters.
Is Melgen a citizen of NJ? If not why does he intercede for Melgen for any reason other than the fact that he is a big donor.
“Whats up with New Jersey? Mendendez, Corzine, Lautenberg, Christie, The Boss, etc. What a cast of characters.”
New Jersey, The Nation’s Toilet! Probably the most corrupt state in the union!
But then there’s Maryland and Illinois that are definitely in the running too. Here in CA, it’s mostly just stupid RATs, but we’re not far down the list either.
But then theres Maryland and Illinois
Maryland is so left that right hand turns are not allowed on its roads. LOL Its largest city, Baltimore, one of the most liberal and not surprisingly dangerous cities in the country, is now on the verge of complete bankruptcy.
Obviously, however, Senator Menendez can be rented.
Maryland is so left that right hand turns are not allowed on its roads. LOL Its largest city, Baltimore, one of the most liberal and not surprisingly dangerous cities in the country, is now on the verge of complete bankruptcy.”
Where do you think Nazi Pelosi came from. Even California would have had a hard time creating that monster. Try Googling D’Alesandro. Her old man was mayor of Baltmore and had to drop out of running for governor because he was knee deep in corruption.
I thought this guy was a liberal.
Why is he outsourcing his sex partners from a foreign country?
At least Spitzer bought American....
Menendez has strongly denounced allegations reported by the conservative Daily Caller that he solicited prostitutes while visiting the Dominican Republic.He didn't have to, it was all done for him.
Contrary to his website and resume, big-name institutions including Harvard, Yale and the Univ of Missouri have claimed they have no record of professional or educational history with Florida ophthalmologist Salomon Melgen, MD, who is under two separate federal investigations for Medicare fraud and a political scandal involving a Democratic senator, according to a report by the Washington Free Beacon.
Dr. Melgen's biography (pdf link at web site) on his website claims he graduated from Harvard, was chief resident of ophthalmology at the Univ of Missouri, and held a Yale internship, but all three denied any record to support his credentials, according to the report.
Dr. Melgen, an active fundraiser for the Democratic Party, is under fire after it was discovered that he and US Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), improperly reported frequent trips to the Dominican Republic, and allegedly hired underage Dominican prostitutes for sex parties. © Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2012.
2/6/13---Miami Herald, Jay Weaver, Marc Caputo and Amy Sherman / jweaver@MiamiHerald.com
A South Florida eye surgeon whos a friend of a U.S. senator is under federal criminal investigation for billing Medicare millions of dollars to treat elderly patients for services they may not have needed, The Miami Herald has learned. Federal agents began investigating Dr. Salomon Melgen last year, sources say, after investigators suspected he overbilled the taxpayer-funded health program by overprescribing a high-priced drug called Lucentis, which is injected into patients eyes.
Several sources familiar with the doctors practice said he used the drug, which costs $2,000 a vial, to treat patients with macular degeneration more than any other ophthalmologist in Florida and possibly the country. His high patient volume also raised red flags for investigators, the sources said.
Under Medicare policies, a doctor may only prescribe treatment that is reasonable and necessary. To make a case, federal prosecutors would have to prove that Melgen needlessly treated patients simply to run up sky-high Medicare bills.
Melgen, whose lawyers have denied any wrongdoing, finds himself in the middle of two federal investigations: His Vitreo- Retinal eye clinics in West Palm Beach and two other South Florida sites were raided last week by agents with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services, who are investigating possible Medicare fraud.
A separate FBI investigation revolves around the doctors relationship with U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and the trips they took on his private plane to Melgens villa at a resort in the Dominican Republic.