The wealthy Florida eye doctor linked with Sen. Bob Menendez through copious cash donations and a private jet launched an anti-capitalist “astroturf” campaign to leverage the Occupy Wall Street Movement against Bank of America.
Dr. Salomon Melgen’s organization, called Too Big To Care, was “inspired by the passion Occupy Wall Street Movement,” according to an October 2011 press release and “designed to provide a platform for the stories of 99%ers to be told and their voices heard.”
The organization’s sparsely used Facebook account registered “likes” for occupy encampments in 40 different cities. But with few followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook, the Too Big To Care platform doesn’t appear to have gained momentum other than a few social media mentions from Occupy Miami.
But a grassroots effort may have been less important to Melgen than pressuring his allies on the Senate Banking Committee for new regulations. His friend and political beneficiary Sen. Menendez has sat on the banking committee since he joined the Senate in 2005. (RELATED: As Bob Menendez inquiry broadens, jet-setting donor covers his tracks)
Melgen has called himself a “victim” of Wall Street “greed.” In 2005 he sued Banc of America Securities, then an investment subsidiary of Bank of America, after he lost $15 million in what he claimed was securities fraud. He alleged that his entire investment was transferred into the account of a failed trader in order to help him cover a margin call.
Melgen sued the investment bank for the return of his funds, pursuing the case all the way to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided against him. The case was ultimately remanded to a lower court where it languishes today, more than seven years later.
The doctor, who now faces multiple federal investigations and an $11 million tax lien from the Internal Revenue Service, has piloted at least one other effort to rouse public sentiment against the American financial system.
In 2010 he announced a “public information campaign” in the Dominican Republic press outlets warning foreign investors of the dangers of parking their assets in the United States.
A longtime Democratic Donor, Melgen brought Menendez to the Dominican Republic on his private airplane on at least three occasions. There the men allegedly slept with prostitutes in what a Dominican official last year told The Daily Caller was a series of alcohol-fueled sex parties.
Two anonymous women told a whistle-blower in 2012 that they were underage when they first had sex with Menendez for money.
Melgen cloaked his Too Big To Care campaign in populist language. “The American people bailed out the big banks because our politicians deemed them Too Big to Fail” his press release read.
“But since then, the banks have profited immensely at taxpayer expense while arrogantly paying their executives millions in bonuses and treating the very taxpayers that bailed them out with scorn and indifference.”
Melgen’s family has donated heavily to Democratic politicians, giving Menendez at least $33,000 and former Sen. Chris Dodd $18,500. Both have been involved with financial and banking regulations. (RELATED: Watchdogs say Menendez’s ties to one-time Miami aide and FBI-probed donor “raises eyebrows”)
Melgen has feted Dodd in his home in the La Romana resort to in the Dominican Republic. He has said the senator’s signature Dodd-Frank banking regulation law lacked sufficient enforcement mechanisms.
The Too Big To Care website, later rebranded “Americans for Banking Justice,” specifically linked Melgen’s efforts to a Senate lobbying push. Online records indicate that it was set up by CVOX, a Miami-based financial and technology communications firm.
“Given the potential impact of this precedent on the U.S. financial system, Dr. Melgen is taking this case to the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in an effort to urge them to consider convening a special hearing to discuss the effect this could have in further eroding the credibility of U.S. Banking system,” according to that Web page.
“Interestingly, a Senate Banking Committee staffer revealed that one of the issues not addressed in the Dodd-Frank legislation is the custodial responsibility brokers should have towards investors. This omission in US law creates a risk to any investor who places his assets in the custody of brokers, and has to be corrected.”
Menendez serves on the Senate banking and finance committees. While in the Senate, Dodd served on the banking committee, and on subcommittees devoted to securities, insurance, and investment; and international trade and finance.)