A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez tonight told several news outlets that the senator reimbursed a Florida donor more than $58,000 for two of three flights the senator took aboard the donor's plane.
But the reimbursement for the fights on the plane owned by Florida Dr. Salomon Melgen, which took place in 2010, did not come until earlier this month, the Menendez camp told the news outlets.
Melgen's office was searched last night by FBI agents who carted off boxes of documents, according to news reports. The eye doctor, who has been a substantial donor to Menendez over the years, was also accused by an anonymous tipster of procuring prostitutes - some of them underage - for Menendez while the pair visited the Dominican Republic.
Menendez has denied the allegations, saying they are nothing more than right wing smear.
The spokeswoman said the senator traveled first from August 6, 2010 to August 10 and flew from Palm Beach to the Dominican Republic and later from Sept 3, 2010 to September 7, leaving from Teterboro Airport and flying to the Dominican
But flight records from Melgen's plane show the plane made several stops both before and after the August trip. Flight data on CL-600 show the plane took off from Palm Beach on August 6, landing at Dulles in Washington D.C. the same day. The flight returned from Dulles to Palm Beach later the same day and held over briefly in Florida before departing for the Dominican Republic.
Menendez was in D.C. for a Senate voting session on August 2, but it is not known if he remained in the city once the vote was done.
On August 9, the plane departed the Dominican Republic, arriving in Palm Beach early on the morning of August 10. After an hour layover in Palm Beach, the plane took off for Teterboro, landing at about 4:45 a.m.
Flight records show the aircraft has made regular stops in Teterboro since 2009, when the plane's current registration was issued.
In that time, the plane has made 15 stops at Teterboro Airport, including the flight Menendez has said he was on. Of the 15 flights, 12 originated from Palm Beach International Airport, while two originated at Dulles.
Records show Melgen's CL-600 has departed 14 times from Teterboro in that same period, flying 11 times back to Palm Beach, twice to Dulles and once to the Dominican Republic.
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"The governor has allowed political cronyism to continue and even flourish, rather than stamp it out, with some of his closest confidants enriching themselves through millions of dollars in state contracts, and legal and lobbying fees, an Asbury Park Press review of thousands of pages of campaign, lobbying and contracting documents found."- The Asbury Park Press
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