By Darryl R. Isherwood | January 30th, 2013 - 2:38pm
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U.S. Sen Bob Menendez issued the following statement on the raid this morning by FBI agents on the office of political supporter Salomon Melgen.

“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. Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false.”

The FBI raided Melgen's West Palm Beach office last night, reportedly hauling away boxes of records.  According to a report in the Miami Herald, the investigation is centered on Melgen's finances and his association with underage prostitutes from the Dominican Republic, though no other information has yet surfaced to support that claim.

Melgen reportedly has an outstanding IRS tax lien of $11 million.

A report in the conservative Daily Caller last November and another last week alleged that Melgen had flown Menendez to the Dominican Republic on his private jets and provided prostitutes, some of them under 18, once there.  The latest report from the Daily Caller alleged that the FBI was investigating claims from an anonymous informant that Menendez and Melgen had solicited the underage prostitutes.

The report relied on emails between the informant, "Peter Williams," and a purported Miami-based FBI Agent.  The agent was contacted by a Washington, D.C., watchdog group after Williams contacted the watchdog group, claiming to represent the prostitutes.

Several attempts by both the FBI, the watchdog group and at least one news outlet to speak with or meet the tipster were unsuccessful. 

But one email from the purported agent, Regino Chavez, claimed the agency was investigating the claims and "we have been able to confirm most of it."

"We know you have been providing accurate information," Chavez wrote to Williams.

The email trail seemed to end in December after Chavez made another attempt to set up a meeting with "Williams" and was rebuffed.

Included in the email chain was what Williams said was an interview with a Dominican prostitute who alleged she had sex with Menendez three times and was underage when she met Menendez.

In November, a spokesman for Menendez called the allegations the product of the "right wing smear machine" and blamed Republican senate candidate Joe Kyrillos  "and his friends in the right wing media."

The Back Room

The Norcross State Senate Seat: two names in the game, sources say

Democratic Party sources say the party organization has not positioned the successor to state Sen. Donald Norcross (D-5), who's running to succeed U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-1) - but there are at least two names circulating as possible choices.

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Wake-Up Call

Morning Digest: October 1st

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Op-Ed

Legislation needed for publicly financed gubernatorial elections

By JEFF BRINDLE It is critical that the Legislature soon enact a pending bill that would ensure the state’s Gubernatorial Public Financing Program is available in the event of a special election for governor.  Not only is there no current legal... Read More >

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"I see Loretta Weinberg in the back of the room. Loretta, you have my eternal admiration for what you did to rid the Democratic Party of a certain political boss. However, not everyone shares that distinction." - Bergen County Republican Freeholder candidate Robert Avery

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