Politics

              FILE In this Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, Senate Banking Committee member, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. listens to testimony by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on Capitol Hill in Washington.  Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender who has now been arrested by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents to wait weeks and not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
              FILE In this Oct. 6, 2011 file photo, Senate Banking Committee member, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. listens to testimony by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Menendez employed as an unpaid intern in his Senate office an illegal immigrant and registered sex offender who has now been arrested by immigration authorities, The Associated Press has learned. The Homeland Security Department instructed federal agents to wait weeks and not to arrest him until after Election Day, a U.S. official involved in the case told the AP. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)   

Emails show FBI investigating Sen. Bob Menendez for sleeping with underage Dominican prostitutes

Photo of David Martosko
David Martosko
Executive Editor

With an interviewer asking her to identify a photograph of Menendez, the unnamed woman replies, “I don’t need to look again. I’m quite sure this is Bob Menendez, the friend of Salomon Melgen I had sexual relations with. I had sexual relations with him several times and I can’t forget his face.”

“I actually met him as Bob,” she says in the transcript. “Then I knew who he was, that he’s a Senator in the United States and that his name is Bob Menendez.”

Asked how often she had sex with the senator, she replies, “In 2009 I saw Bob three times at least. The first one in February, and then in May and June. I recall his visit in June so well because that month was my 17th birthday. Then we met twice one in May 2010 and then in December 2011. … I was underage when I met him. But I can’t say for sure whether he knew it or not.”

She is identified in the transcript as “young participant #2.”

The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18. The PROTECT Act, a U.S. law passed in 2003, made it a federal crime for Americans to engage in sex for money with anyone under 18, even in countries where the age of consent is lower.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told TheDC on Thursday evening that her organization shared the allegations it received with federal law enforcement.

“On July 17, 2012, CREW sent letters to the Department of Justice and the FBI requesting an investigation into this matter,” Sloan said in an email. She said one letter was addressed to “[t]he Director of the Washington Field Office.”

A message left for that office’s Acting Assistant Director in Charge, Debra Evans Smith, was not returned.

But CREW has not mentioned Sen. Menendez on its website or in press releases since July 2011, and the group has not identified the New Jersey Democrat as a lawmaker with ethical shortcomings.

CREW publishes an “Under Investigation” report which it says is “a list of Congress members likely under investigation by the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the House Ethics Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, the Office of Congressional Ethics, and in some cases, the Federal Election Commission.”

No senators’ names appear in the report, last updated January 8, 2013. Spokesman Dave Merchant did not respond when asked why CREW did not publicly report the allegations against Menendez in 2012, seven months before Menendez won re-election.

The 58-page dossier on Menendez includes several emails to and from Schwartz at ABC. In one, she wrote to the Dominican Republic source on June 22, 2012 saying that the Menendez story was “a high priority and I’m working on it at my end.” ABC, however, never produced a news report on Menendez’s Dominican escapades during the 2012 election year.

“I’m not going to say anything,” Schwartz told TheDC when reached via phone Thursday. “I’m not confirming anything.”

Schwartz referred questions to ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider, who did not respond to an email seeking comment.

TheDC’s Nov. 1 exposé included videotaped interviews with two women who said through a translator that Menendez paid them for sex at an elite Dominican resort. An attorney representing both women told TheDC that they were both of legal age. Both women said they were promised $500 to sleep with Sen. Menendez, but that they were paid only $100 apiece. (RELATED VIDEO — Women: Sen. Bob Menendez paid us for sex in the Dominican Republic)

Prostitution is legal in the Dominican Republic, but ethics rules prohibit U.S. government officials from engaging in behavior that is illegal in the U.S. since it could open them up to blackmail, compromising their ability to serve in government.

Eleven U.S. Secret Service agents became embroiled in a prostitution scandal in the South American nation of Colombia in early April 2012. Government officials at the time cited exposure to blackmail as one reason the Department of Homeland Security would not tolerate Secret Service agents who paid for sex while on assignment overseas.