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Sen. Robert Menendez denied any wrongdoing as he responded Wednesday to a report that a South Florida ophthalmologist associated with the New Jersey Democrat had his office raided by the FBI.
“Dr. Melgen has been a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years. Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen’s plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately,” Menendez’s office said in a statement. “Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.”
The Miami Herald reported that the FBI raided the office of Dr. Salomon Melgen in West Palm Beach on Tuesday night. The newspaper noted that Melgen has been accused of providing prostitutes to Menendez during travel to the Dominican Republic. Those claims remain unsubstantiated, and the Miami Herald reported that the tipster in the case has refused to meet in person with FBI agents.
Melgen has given more than $200,000 to mostly Democratic candidates, party committees and member-run leadership political action committees since 1990, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
That includes $20,000 to the Democratic State Committee in New Jersey, Menendez’s home state, and $30,400 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2009, when Menendez was its chairman. It also includes $5,000 each to the leadership PACs run by Menendez and by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., who chairs the Democratic National Committee.
Candidates and lawmakers who received donations from Melgen in the 2012 election cycle include Menendez; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., and retired Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, a Democrat who was briefly a Senate candidate in Texas last year.
Eliza Newlin Carney contributed to this report.