GOP: Menendez Spending 87% of Wealth to Pay for Flights Raises Questions

GOP: Menendez Spending 87% of Wealth to Pay for Flights Raises Questions

Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer told Breitbart News that the facts don’t all add up in New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez’s story when it comes to his reimbursement of flights aboard a Democratic mega-donor’s private jet. 

Spicer specifically questions the issues surrounding how Menendez paid such a huge chunk out of his pocket for the flights. 

“The notion that anyone would have spent such a massive percent of their assets on previously unreported flights until it was discovered begs countless questions,” Spicer said in an email.

On Tuesday, the National Journal reported that Menendez spent up to 87 percent of his entire wealth to pay back campaign donor Dr. Salomon Melgen for two 2010 flights to the Dominican Republic. Menenedez has admitted to three such flights aboard Melgen’s jet and claims all three occurred in 2010.

“When Robert Menendez arrived in the U.S. Senate in 2006, he was a relative pauper in a chamber often called a millionaires’ club,” National Journal‘s Shane Goldmacher reported. 

The New Jersey Democrat ranked 97th out of 100 senators in terms of his personal wealth, according to financial records filed that year and compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. So Menendez’s decision last month to use his personal funds to reimburse a prominent political contributor $58,500 for two flights to the Dominican Republic came at a major cost. The repayment amounts to between 32 percent and 87 percent of the assets Menendez reported holding in bank accounts and stock, according to his latest financial-disclosure form, which was filed last year.

Menendez did not pay Melgen back for the flights until early 2013, after investigative reports incited public scrutiny. Menendez paid Melgen $58,500 in early January for two of the flights. The third was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Menendez chaired back in 2010.

According to Roll Call, the reason Menendez gave for his failure to reimburse for those flights for almost three years is because “[i]t unfortunately fell through the cracks.”

Menendez has given the impression he had always intended to pay for the flights but just forgot to do so or didn’t thanks to some other oversight. But in addition to costing him up to 87 percent of his entire wealth as National Journal reported, the reimbursement cost between 8.6 and 18.5 percent of his entire net worth, as Breitbart News has previously reported. The reimbursement amount is about a third of Menendez’s annual salary, as well.

As Breitbart News has documented using flight path data for Melgen’s plane, it appears the Senator may have been on the plane on Easter Sunday in 2012. Menendez and his staff won’t answer when asked whether he was on the plane that day and, similarly, won’t provide any accounting as to where the Senator was on the holiday. 

If Menendez is found to have been on more flights than the three he has now admitted, it would directly contradict his claim to three flights total–all in 2010. It is unclear if Menendez could afford to reimburse Melgen for any more flights, given the huge chunk the other two took out of his wallet.