When asked at a press conference on Thursday to comment on allegations that Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) paid underage prostitutes for sex on several trips to the Dominican Republic from 2009 to 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) claimed to know nothing about the matter.
A Politico source reported Reid as saying, “Bob Menendez is my friend, he’s an outstanding senator. Any questions in this regard direct to him. I don’t know anything about it. That’s all I’m going to say. I’m not going to say anything.”
Reid has the authority to initiate an investigation into the allegations against his colleague but there is no evidence as of early Fridaythat he has taken this action. His non-action and retort during the press conference give the impression that he is treating the allegations as a non-issue.
The press conference during which Reid laid out a trajectory for immigration reform occurred a day after the FBI agents and a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services inspector raided the West Palm Beach offices of eye doctor Salomon Melgen. Melgen donated to Menendez’s political campaigns. He is accused of using his private plane to host trips with Menendez to the Dominican Republic, and for choosing underage prostitutes for Menendez while there.
Menendez’s Democratic colleagues appear to view the underage prostitute allegations as a sideshow to more important issues, and the mainstream media appears to be attempting to ignore the story: ABC News apparently passed on being first to publish the report. The Daily Caller previously reported that ABC News senior investigative producer Rhonda Schwartz first received information about the allegations in May 2012. Menendez appeared on ABC News’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, January 27, amidst increasing speculation that the FBI was investigating Menendez, but guest host Martha Raddatz did not ask Menendez about the allegations. ABC News first reported the story January 30, 2013 and came to the senator’s defense, explaining that Menendez reportedly reimbursed the eye doctor for the cost of three trips to the Dominican Republic.
Menendez is one of eight senators who proposed an immigration reform plan on January 28. Perhaps Reid fears that entertaining the allegations against Menendez would derail immigration reform efforts. Hopefully the Senate Majority Leader will initiate an investigation for the nation’s sake and to prove that the Democrat Party is concerned with ethics and transparency.