Menendez Pressured State Department To Help Donor’s Mistresses Enter Country
— New York Post (@nypost) April 19, 2015
Coverage surrounding the indictment against New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez had previously focused on his use of power to help a major donor Dr. Salomon Melgen with business deals and Medicare payments, but thanks to a report in the New York Post some of Senator Menendez’s other efforts make take center stage.
The report reveals the women listed in the indictment as “Girlfriends” 1, 2, and 3. All three were mistresses of Melgen and were assisted in entering the United States by Senator Menendez and his staff. “Girlfriend 1” was a Brazilian actress, “Girlfriend 2” encapsulates two sisters from the Dominican Republic, and “Girlfriend 3” being a Ukrainian model.
Menendez and his staff worked to allow all the women, believed to be mistresses of Melgen who is married, into the country despite initial objections from State Department personnel. The Brazilian actress received a student visa, the Ukrainian model received a visa to visit for plastic surgery (though appears to still be in the country), and two Dominican sisters were granted a travel visa even after being initially denied out of concern that they would not return home.
Menendez passed on the request to Lopes, his senior foreign-policy adviser whose actual duties included representing Menendez on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The staffers drafted a letter from Menendez to the consul general and asked that the sisters’ applications be given “all due consideration.” The senator told Lopes to not only send the letter but to call “if necessary.” But after their interview, an embassy employee denied the visas for the sisters, saying that neither was working and that they had “no solvency of their own.”…
An unnamed high-ranking State Department official wrote to Menendez that he agreed with the rejection, saying the sisters had not been convincing about their eventual return to their home country. But a few weeks later, the State Department decided to re-interview the women, and they were granted visas.When the approval finally came, Lopes wrote in an e-mail to a colleague that it was “ONLY DUE to the fact that RM intervened.”
Melgen donated over hundreds of thousands of dollars to Menendez and related campaign interests as well as gifts such as free flights on his private jet. Though Menendez has claimed that he did these favors for Melgen as a “friend” they first met at a campaign fundraising event and had an extensive financial relationship. Melgen did not live in New Jersey at the time and therefore was not a constituent.
In charges related to the indictment, Salomon Melgen has been arrested and charged with Medicare fraud.