U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was indicted on corruption charges of accepting almost $1 million in gifts and campaign donations to help friends get visas for foreign girlfriends, to stop a fraud investigation and get lucrative a contract.
According to allegations in the indictment, during this same time period, Menendez allegedly engaged in three efforts to use his Senate office and staff to advocate on behalf of Melgen’s personal and financial interests.
Firstly, Menendez allegedly pressured executive agencies in connection with a conflict between Melgen and the government of the Dominican Republic relating to a disputed contract that Melgen purchased to provide exclusive screening of containers coming through Dominican ports.
Secondly, Menendez allegedly advocated on behalf of Melgen in connection with a Medicare billing dispute worth approximately $8.9 million to Melgen.
Thirdly, Menendez allegedly took active steps to support the tourist and student visa applications of three of Melgen’s girlfriends, as well as the visa application of the younger sister of one of Melgen’s girlfriends.
Throughout these efforts, Menendez allegedly engaged in advocacy for Melgen all the way up to the highest levels of the U.S. government, including meeting with a U.S. cabinet secretary, contacting a U.S. Ambassador, meeting with the heads of executive agencies and other senior executive officials and soliciting other U.S. Senators, all in order to assist Melgen’s personal and pecuniary interests.
Menendez charged that prosecutors “don’t know the difference between friendship and corruption and have chosen to twist my duties as a senator and my friendship into something that is improper”.
Political analyst, Rebeca Shafer says, politicians take gifts like this all the time. It is easy to call someone your friend when they are paying all the bills. This is nothing new, but politicians do this typically to not make enemies; they walk a very fine line as not to p**s anyone off. This is America and this is how Washington works. Remember that the Keating Five were five United States Senators accused of corruption in 1989. The five U.S. senators were accused of trying to pressure federal thrift regulators to back off their political benefactor -Keating- whose Lincoln Savings & Loan would collapse during the savings-and-loan crisis of the late 1980s at a cost of $3.4 billion to taxpayers. At the time, Keating was an influential and larger-than-life business figure in Arizona and he generously contributed campaign cash to his favorite politicians.
John McCain is the only member of the “Keating Five” who is still serving on Capitol Hill. The other four retired in 1990s: U.S. Sens. Alan Cranston, D-Calif.; Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz.; John Glenn, D-Ohio; and Donald Riegle, D-Mich.
Menendez advocated on Melgen’s behalf with federal Medicare administrators who accused Melgen of overbilling the government’s healthcare program, according to court documents and people briefed on the probe. Melgen was among the top recipients of Medicare reimbursements in recent years, during a time when he was also a major Democratic donor -an estimated $8.9 million in over billing from 2009 to 2011.
Citizens against fraud say medical fraud is so wide-spread that is estimated at 200 billion a year. Doctor groups make huge donations to many politicians in order to get special treatment and make it easier to commit fraud. The US Senator just passed a bill to make it easier for doctors to get paid on questionable procedures. To single out one doctor or one politician seems absurd when basically thousands of doctors and dozens of senators participate in this practice every day. Medicare fraud is the norm and politicians are happy to look away as long as they get financial support from the medical community. We are glad to see someone get indicted but this does not fix the problem when senators and criminals work together.
The senator helped advance the visa applications sought by Melgen for his girlfriends from Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Ukraine, as well as the sister of the Dominican woman, according to prosecutors.
A Foreign Affair, an international Introduction company that specializes in introducing American men to models and beautiful women from all over the world, says their clients contact their own senators and representatives all the time to help with Visas. This is the first time they have hear of an issue with this. America is a county of who you know. Most of the time it is to help with fiancée visas. Some of the more influential clients try and use the tourist visas as an easier way to expedite fiancée arrivals. Since Melgen was bringing so many women to the US, fiancée visas were not an option as US policy only allows two fiancée visas in a lifetime, plus you have to be single. Melgen is married.