Menendez Prostitution Scandal: Donor Melgen's Political Contributions Exploded After IRS Filed Tax Lien
Ophthalmologist and Democratic political donor Dr. Salomon Melgen may have tried to buy cover from the IRS for the $11.1 million he owes in back taxes from 2006 to present, Breitbart News has learned. Melgen may have intended to court politicians with political donations and prostitutes with the hopes that they would help him wipe his IRS slate clean.
Melgen was a political donor from as far back as the early 1990s. According to Federal Election Commission records published on the Center for Responsive Politics website OpenSecrets.org, Melgen made his first political donation to a young first-term Democratic U.S. Congressman: Bob Menendez. After that $500 donation, Melgen’s friendship with Menendez developed further (the two were reportedly close before Menendez first took office).
Meanwhile, Melgen and his wife Flor started making more political donations to Menendez and other politicians and groups. As the years went by, the donations grew in size. Melgen became a regular on the political circuit. He hosted fundraisers for candidates and became close with the Clinton family throughout the 1990s. Salomon and Flor Melgen donated $2,000 total to President Bill Clinton’s 1996 re-election campaign, after having given $3,000 to Hillary Clinton’s brother—Hugh Rodham—for his failed 1994 U.S. Senate bid out of Florida.
The donations continued to grow in size and quantity before Melgen began facing tax problems with the IRS in July 2002. The Free Beacon reports that the IRS filed a federal tax lien against Melgen for about $1.3 million then for unpaid taxes dating back to 1999, and that lien was released in November 2002.
Melgen continued supporting Democratic politicians from Florida and some other higher-profile Democrats around the country. He and his wife supported now-former Sens. Chris Dodd and Bob Graham, and Sens. Tom Harkin Chuck Schumer and Bill Nelson. He threw some cash to then House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (who reared Nancy Pelosi in House politics in the early 2000s after he lost the House Majority to Newt Gingrich in the 1994 elections.
After that original tax lien was wiped away—at this time, the details of why the lien was removed are unclear—all was going well for Melgen until, in 2008, he got slapped with another lien. According to the Free Beacon, the IRS charges in that lien that Melgen owed $6.2 million in back taxes dating to 1998. That second lien was lifted in August 2011.
It was in the middle of these first two liens—around the beginning of 2006—that Melgen ramped up his political activity. Until then, from that first donation to Menendez in 1993, Melgen and his wife Flor had donated a total of $88,360 to political candidates and groups. Save for two anomalies—a $250 donation to former Florida Republican Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned after his own sex scandal hit him, and a $1,000 donation his wife Flor gave to George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s—Melgen and his family didn’t donate to Republicans.
From the beginning of 2006 to present, Melgen almost quadrupled his political donation activity of the previous decade or longer. In the past seven years, he, his wife, and his daughter Melissa—who is the marketing director for her father’s eye clinic company—donated a total of $324,600 to political figures and groups. Like before, most of that went to Democrats.
According to a current Dominican Republic government official this reporter interviewed while writing for The Daily Caller before joining Breitbart News, Melgen allegedly began hosting sex parties replete with “sex, hookers and drinking.” Menendez allegedly attended these parties. While the senator and his staff deny prostitution parties took place at the villa or that Menendez participated in them—even though two prostitutes have alleged, in an interview with this reporter who broke the original story while at The Daily Caller, that they were paid to have sex with Menendez—Menendez’s staff admitted the senator flew to the Dominican on Melgen’s private plane on three occasions and told NBC News’ Michael Isikoff that Menendez stays at Melgen’s villa while there about twice a year.
The Dominican official told this reporter Menendez has allegedly been attending these sex parties at Melgen’s villa “for at least the past three years, probably longer.”
Back in the United States, Melgen continued increasing his political profile as a donor. In 2011, he expanded his reach outside the Democratic Party to begin funding two prominent Hispanic Republicans’ political efforts. He and his wife pushed Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Over the course of 2011 and 2012, the Melgens donated $10,000 to Diaz-Balart and $9,800 to Ros-Lehtinen—a powerful congresswoman who at the time chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee.
As these sex parties allegedly continued in the Dominican, and Melgen continued building his political profile with bigger and bigger donations to higher and higher profile politicians—all while flying his private jet around—the doctor’s tax problems went from bad to worse. The Free Beacon reports that in May 2011 Melgen was hit with another IRS tax lien, this one for $11.1 million in unpaid taxes dating back to 2006. The previous $6.2 million lien was still in effect for another few months before the IRS released it in August 2011—meaning the doctor had $17.3 million in liens against him at that point.
The $11.1 million lien remains in place to this day. But in April 2011, one month before the IRS filed this additional lien for $11.1 million, and four months before the earlier $6.2 million IRS lien was released, the doctor and journalist Emilio Sanchez founded Hispanic media company VOXXI. Sanchez is the CEO.
“At VOXXI, we aim to fill a void in the mainstream media by delivering great journalism and telling captivating stories that educate, engage and entertain, all with a Hispanic touch and enriched by the power of social media,” VOXXI said in its mission statement. “We will defend the role of Hispanics in this nation by providing a news platform where Latinos can be heard and respected. As an independent voice, VOXXI fosters an open and dynamic dialogue, empowering our community to act and react on current events and trends.”
Documents filed with Florida’s Secretary of State’s office show Melgen is listed as the managing member of La Vox LLC, the limited liability company that owns VOXXI.
A few months later, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Melgen and Sanchez threw a bash celebrating VOXXI’s launch. Photos published online from the event show attendees other than Melgen and Sanchez include: Menendez, Diaz-Balart and Ros-Lehtinen, among many other politicians.
In a phone interview with Breitbart News on Thursday, Sanchez said the Menendez-Melgen story had nothing to do with his website. “There is no relationship between VOXXI and the Dr. Salomon Melgen—Senator Robert Menendez story," he said. "We don't have to make a statement.”
When asked if Melgen owned 100 percent of La Vox LLC or had a controlling interest in the company, Sanchez responded: “I don't have to give you financial information on the company.”
Sanchez also said an earlier report from LatinoRebels.com that his company would be releasing a statement on the scandal was “not true,” and that his company won’t release a statement.
Through a spokeswoman, Diaz-Balart refused to comment to Breitbart News when asked for details on his connections to Melgen. A spokesperson for Ros-Lehtinen has not returned several requests for comment.
About two months after that event was Easter week. That week is the timeframe in which two women from the Dominican Republic alleged, in an interview with this reporter, they were under-paid to have sex with Menendez; they claim they were promised $500 each but say they only received $100 apiece.
Shortly after that Easter-week incident, a tipster who goes by the name “Peter Williams” alerted the George Soros-funded Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which began investigating. CREW alerted ABC News reporter Rhonda Schwartz, who also started investigating but for reasons unknown never ran a story, and the FBI.
FBI Special Agent Regino Chavez launched an inquiry into the prostitution angle of this scandal as it relates to Menendez and Melgen as early as August 1, 2012, emails show. In September 2012, Chavez emailed “Williams” to tell him that the FBI had been able to “confirm most of” the information he was providing on that front and that the FBI “know[s] that you are providing accurate information.”
As Schwartz never continued to not run a story on the matter and CREW didn’t publish anything either—while the FBI worked its will—this reporter got wind of the allegations floating around there. Early on November 1, 2012, this reporter broke the story in The Daily Caller.
A couple weeks ago, the emails between “Williams” and the FBI’s Chavez surfaced, as did many more details.
Over the ensuing months since the story first broke, ABC News has not run a story. While guest-hosting ABC’s Sunday news show “This Week,” the network’s foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz had Menendez on for six minutes and chose not to ask about the FBI inquiry. Media coverage elsewhere has been scant as well.
Melgen’s personal media company has ignored the story, something a VOXXI spokeswoman told Breitbart News has been a decision made by leadership. “It was an editorial decision,” VOXXI spokeswoman Julissa Bonfante said when asked why the outlet didn’t cover it.
Breitbart News’ Michael Patrick Leahy contributed to this report.