Menendez donor: ‘They took away my dignity’
April 2nd, 2013
09:11 AM ET
1 year ago

Menendez donor: ‘They took away my dignity’

(CNN) – The Florida doctor who found himself embroiled in allegations leveled at Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said in an interview published Tuesday that his name and reputation have been unfairly sullied.

“They took away my dignity. They portrayed me as a greedy guy who was with politicians for the quid pro quo,” Salomon Melgen said in the interview with Bloomberg.

Questions revolve around Menendez’s relationship with Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who owned a plane Menendez admits to having flown on three times to the Dominican Republic in 2010. One flight was on official Senate business, and two others were for personal reasons.

Melgen, his wife, Flor, and his daughter, Melissa, have been generous donors to Menendez, his fellow Democrats and related causes in recent years.

In January, Menendez paid approximately $58,500 to Melgen for the flights he took in 2010, chalking up the lapse in payment to his busy schedule.

"I was in a big travel schedule in 2010 as the chair of the (Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee), plus my own campaign getting ready for a re-election cycle, and in the process of all of that, it unfortunately fell through the cracks," Menendez told CNN's Dana Bash, adding that when it came to his attention that the payment had not been made, he "personally paid" for it in order to meet his obligation.

Questions were also raised when it was revealed Menendez had intervened in a federal audit of Melgen’s Medicare billing practices. Menendez raised concerns with federal officials' conclusion that Melgen had overbilled the federal government by $8.9 million in Medicare and Medicaid payments when treating patients at his West Palm Beach clinic.

In the interview, Melgen said he “did not ask Senator Menendez or any public official to intervene in the pending overpayment case.”

“My representative and I have discussed the lack of clarity in Medicare billing rules and CMS’s contradictory guidance with several public officials, including Senator Menendez and his staff,” he continued.

Melgen added in the interview Tuesday that he and Menendez “have become like brothers, like friends,” saying that before the allegations emerged he spoke with the New Jersey Democratic every week and saw him once a month.

“We enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “He could do great things for this country, especially as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”

CNN's Steve Brusk and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Robert Menendez
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    “They took away my dignity. They portrayed me as a greedy guy who was with politicians for the quid pro quo,” Salomon Melgen said
    -------------------------------------------------
    Okay Doc, let's not push it.
    Why don't we just let this die a natural death without your dramatics. Whaddaya say, hmm?

    April 2, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  2. Pete

    It's funny how republicans throw mud and don't mind trashing others names but when it comes to their own the sanctumonious ones cry foul don't they..For instance Sen.Stevens of Alaska taking monies for big oil,flying also in a corporate plane everywhere and blantantly dismissing it as rediculous when caught..Even Sarah Palin came to his rescue until it became to much even for her big mouth to handle as Alaskas governor..She then hypocritaly told him to step down because he was dragging her down with him as well with she and her husbands involvement in big oil corporation bribes herself now being investigated..Remember republicans how fast she resigned as governor and starting writting books and other big money deals but still had to shake off rumors of stealing cloths from her campaign over $50,000 worth and how McCain wants nothing to do with her as well..So republicans learn to clean up your own messes before complaining of others because its pretty well known you have enough problems in your party to clean up for most of your reps lifetimes!!

    April 2, 2013 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  3. jboh

    TEA/GOP loud-mouthes love to dish it out, but can't take it.

    April 2, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Pete
    Your re-cap of the inglorious involvement of the Alaska celebrity non-entity better known as Failin Palin was hilariously succint and quite entertaining.
    I must say however that in the years that I've been on this board it is quite apparent that Rethugs in government like to point fingers at the questionable behaviour of people from across the aisle in the hopes that said finger-pointing will serve to take attention away from their almost compulsively deplorably amoral behaviour.
    They and the folks that support them on this thread cannot seem to help themselves. It is almost like an unspoken Party prerequisite. There is enough dirt on BOTH sides of the aisle to keep a clenaing crew permanently employed without fear of furloughs. Failing to recognize the dirt in your own home while critiquing other's missteps is grounds for automatic dismissal of whatever point you were attempting to make.

    April 2, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    "So republicans learn to clean up your own messes before complaining of others because its pretty well known you have enough problems in your party to clean up for most of your reps lifetimes ... "

    Great advice. I won't be holding my breath waiting for that clean up in aisle GOP though. GOPers love to point out others "hypocrisy" without tackling their own well documented hypocrisy. Indeed, they point fingers at others to AVOID that clean up they all know needs to happen to once again become a viable political party.

    I won't be holding my breath for the GOP to once again becoming a viable political party either. In their own little world, they haven't yet (as the saying goes) hit rock bottom.

    April 2, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. lottie

    GOP using the same tired ol tactics will continue to loose elections. They should try working on their policies. We all knoe they can lie and sling mud show us something new like ideas.

    April 2, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Lynda?Minnesota:
    I gotta tell you my friend, I can definitely see what made you bail from the Party that you used to have allegiance to. I have many Republican co-workers here who are just plain disgusted at their Party's hierarchy, shenanigans, and flash-in-the-pan clowns.
    If you take your politics seriously this poltical period in our history is one of enlightment and acute mortification and concern.

    April 2, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dominican mama: "I gotta tell you my friend, I can definitely see what made you bail from the Party that you used to have allegiance to."

    LOL. My husband and I just had that conversation ... again. When I first brought up my disgust, he was still holding on. I gave up talking with him. Eventually ... let's say in 2004, even he had become distressed. At this point, I give him all the credit. He understands where his party is and it disgusts him as much as it did me.

    Ah, the tangled webs we weave, when we first set out to deceive. Yeah, I bailed out. I don't envision going back anytime soon.

    April 2, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ah, the tangled webs we weave, when we first set out to deceive.
    -------------------------------------------------
    I like the paraphrasing. Quite apt.
    I'd welcome you to the D side of the house but I'm just a temporary resident there myself, apt to bail at a moment's notice!

    April 2, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I'd welcome you to the D side of the house but I'm just a temporary resident there myself, apt to bail at a moment's notice!"

    The good news is, I went to the D side knowing full well what I was accepting politically. It's not as if they cloak themselves in God given innuendo and lies.

    Whether or not they still want me is left to be seen.

    April 2, 2013 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Rick McDaniel

    The big question here, has NEVER been addressed.........just what personal business did he have in the Dominican Republic, that was so important for him to make 3 trips there, in a single year?????

    Or does he own property there?

    If he owns property there, what other investments does he own, outside of the country?

    Still many questions to be answered, it would seem.

    April 2, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Thomas

    “They took away my dignity. They portrayed me as a greedy guy who was with politicians for the quid pro quo,” Salomon Melgen said in the interview .

    Donald Trump / Salomon Melgen
    Who needs dignity when Cash is King 2016

    April 2, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Rick McDaniel wrote:

    The big question here, has NEVER been addressed.........just what personal business did he have in the Dominican Republic, that was so important for him to make 3 trips there, in a single year?????

    Or does he own property there?
    If he owns property there, what other investments does he own, outside of the country?
    Still many questions to be answered, it would seem.
    -------------
    Actually, the big question is what business is it of yours what he does on vacation? None. It's not like he was AWOL from his job like that Gov. Sanford. Even if he was down there fund raising, there's nothing illegal about it.

    Fishing trips are usually not immoral, but they are when you're fishing for guilty policians.

    April 2, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Pete

    @Dominican mama,its just you get tired of this hypocritical bible toting righties always throwing stones but fail to realize they're also in a glass house themselves as well and are too arrogent to think some one just might throw some of those same rocks back their way..But that's their ignorence isn't it getting in the way as well!!Thanks for the backup Mama its a pleasure to have someone like yourself on my side against these supposid intellectuals,what a laugh isn't it!!

    April 2, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Fishing trips are usually not immoral ... "

    No, Rudy. They aren't. I've done some of my best communing with God on my little fishing trips to the cabin "up north". So peaceful and so tranquil.

    Now, apparently even that respite is being given an ulterior motive. All so very sinister and immoral ... are those fish we hook.

    April 2, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    just what personal business did he have in the Dominican Republic, that was so important for him to make 3 trips there, in a single year?????
    -------------------------------------------------
    You've never been to my country of birth have you Rick?
    I can tell.

    April 2, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Pete,
    its just you get tired of this hypocritical bible toting righties always throwing stones but fail to realize they're also in a glass house themselves as well
    -------------------------------------------------
    Papi you said a mouthful, and you're absolutely correct, they are a laugh!
    Don't let them stress you.

    April 2, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. 2012liberal

    @dominican couldn't agree w u more. Thing is rethugs want 2 make something out of nothing. Look look look dem did something questionable and then when it's really examined ppl were paid 2 make false statements and investigations not so legit.

    April 2, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @2012liberal
    Does sound like much ado about nothing. MIsery loves company is the only way I can justify the Rethugs need to place dirt where there is none...at least in this instance!

    April 2, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. just sayin

    menendez didn't report any of this and didn't pay for the use correct? he only paid up after this was all revealed. so it does provoke a lot more questions. the guy shouldn't be surprised. if he is clean, he should be ticked off at menendez for not handling it properly. there is still something fishy in all this and it should be looked into.

    of course democrats always say there is nothing, just like there was nothing with jesse jackson jr. and charlie rangel.

    April 2, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  21. Wake up People!

    @Dominican Mama and Lynda/Minnesota.

    This democrat welcomes both of you to the party of sanity. I love posting with you ladies, Rudy, Sniffit, Pete, GOP, etc.

    April 2, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |