New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez abruptly left a press conference on Hurricane Sandy aid ahead of other Senate Democrats on Monday. While it’s unclear why Menendez left the presser early, the move came amid building pressure concerning a scandal involving allegations he solicited prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.
The press conference—which Menendez attended with fellow New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg and New York Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand—was held shortly after 6 p.m. EST on the Senate side of Capitol Hill. In the middle of the presser, Menendez’ press spokeswoman Tricia Enright handed him a crumpled piece of notebook paper containing a handwritten note. Menendez then had a quick private word with Schumer before delivering brief remarks on the Sandy package the Senate had just passed, and stormed out of the press conference without taking any questions.
The other Senators took questions from press about the Sandy aid package.
Enright has not responded to Breitbart News’ request for comment on what was on the note she handed to Menendez mid-press conference. She also has not answered when asked why the Senator left the press conference ahead of his colleagues. This reporter was at the press conference.
Menendez told Breitbart News’ Kerry Picket that he wasn’t “going to dignify that story” when she asked him for comment on the FBI inquiry into his alleged solicitation of prostitutes in the Dominican Republic. Menendez had a similarly abrasive confrontation with The Daily Caller’s Nicholas Ballasy on Monday.
This reporter interviewed two Dominican Republic women in November, while reporting for The Daily Caller before joining Breitbart News, who claimed Menendez paid them for sex around Easter-time last year. The encounter apparently took place at Casa de Campo, a posh 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic. Each woman told this reporter that Menendez had allegedly agreed to pay them $500 for sex but only paid them $100.
On Thursday, emails published online support this reporter’s original accounts by confirming the existence of an FBI investigation. On August 1, 2012, the FBI had opened an inquiry into Menendez’s alleged prostitution solicitation—mainly because one of the prostitutes Menendez allegedly paid for sex was allegedly underage.
Neither Menendez nor Enright have offered any explanation as to where the Senator was during the time frame in which the two women claim he paid them for sex. When asked repeatedly by Breitbart News where he was during Easter-time last year, Menendez’ office has not responded with an answer.
About the Sandy aid package at the press conference, Menendez said: “Relief is finally on the way.”
“While we have languished longer than any of us believe we should have, at least today the Senate spoke in a bipartisan way that this is in fact the United States of America and we still believe in where there is disaster and responding to that disaster,” Menendez said.