Menendez advocated to clear path for donor’s $500 million Dominican Republic contract

Vince Coglianese | Editorial Director

New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez tried to throw his longtime donor and friend a very lucrative bone in 2012, according to the Miami Herald:

Sen. Bob Menendez used his influence to advocate for a Dominican Republic business deal that helped a longtime friend and donor whose South Florida office was raided by federal agents this week.

Menendez questioned Obama administration officials at a July hearing about what it was doing to help U.S. businesses that he felt were being unfairly treated by the government of the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries.

One company Menendez was apparently referring to: ICSSI, acquired the year before by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Palm Beach County eye doctor and friend. The firm was seeking to enforce a contract it had won to X-ray Dominican Republic port cargo, that could be worth $500 million to $1 billion over two decades.

And the optics of Menendez’s support for his buddy’s mega-contract are complicated by the fact that the senator accepted at least $58,500 in private airfare from Melgen, the Herald’s Marc Caputo explained:

As the conservative press began circulating the reports about the two, the New Jersey Republican Party filed a complaint against Menendez for flying on Melgen’s private plane to the Dominican Republic but failing to disclose the gifts.

Menendez’s office checked his schedule and realized the senator had flown twice on Melgen’s plane without paying for it in 2010. On Jan. 4, Menendez cut a check for $58,500 — the air-charter rate for the pricey flights — to fully settle the matter.

Read the full Miami Herald report here.

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