October 2012 ‘Women for Menendez’ event boasted senator’s record ’empowering women worldwide’
Bob Menendez is “committed to ensuring that every young person is able to reach their full potential,” read a 2012 fundraising solicitation for an October campaign event with the New Jersey Democratic senator, hosted by a political committee called “Women for Menendez.”
Menendez is now facing allegations that he slept with underage prostitutes during a series of alcohol-fueled sex parties in the Dominican Republic.
On Tuesday night the FBI raided the office of Dr. Salomon Melgen, his longtime donor and the owner of a private jet reportedly used to ferry Menendez back and forth between the United States and that island nation. (RELATED: FBI raids Florida eye clinic of donor linked to Menendez prostitution scandal)
The invitation to the Oct. 16 fundraiser, paid for by the senator’s official “Menendez for Senate” campaign committee, advertised the planned appearance of Pulitzer Prize-winning author and feminist commentator Anna Quindlen as host. It was accompanied by a two-page list of Menendez’s claimed accomplishments on women’s issues.
“Bob believes we must stand with women who are fighting against oppression and seeking to replicate in their own countries the rights and freedoms that women have gained in the United States,” read one claim.
“Bob has consistently defended a woman’s right to be free from abuse, safe from trafficking and exploitation, able to vote, claim property rights, participate freely in her economy and receive an education. … Bob is committed to advocating for the health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls and women worldwide.”
A 58-page dossier of emails, documents and interviews first reported Jan. 25 by The Daily Caller include the hand-written testimonial of a 19-year-old Dominican woman who said she was paid to sleep with Menendez when she was 16. (RELATED: Emails show FBI investigating Sen. Bob Menendez for sleeping with underage Dominican prostitutes)
The legal age of consent in the Dominican Republic, where prostitution between consenting adults is legal, is 18.
With an interviewer asking her to identify a photograph of Menendez, the unnamed woman said, “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.”
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.”
The woman, identified in the interview transcript as “young participant #2,” said she could not be sure Menendez knew she was underage when their sexual contact occurred. But 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 under any circumstances.
“Bob is committed to ensuring that every young person is able to reach their full potential,” read another section of the event flyer.
Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether the senator is still an appropriate standard-bearer for women’s issues.
In a statement Wednesday, however, his office said the “allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.”
Publicists for Quindlen also did not respond immediately to a request for confirmation that the author attended the October event and delivered remarks as scheduled.