In its indictment of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida opthalmologist, the Department of Justice cites Melgen’s $600,000 donation to Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) Senate Majority PAC in 2012. That money, the feds charge, was earmarked for the successful re-election of Menendez, and was part of “hundreds of thousands of dollars and contributions to entities that benefitted MENENDEZ’s 2012 Senate campaign, in exchange for specific requested exercises of MENENDEZ’s official authority.”
The indictment makes no mention of the additional $100,000 Melgen contributed to the Senate Majority PAC a mere two weeks before Reid arranged an August 2, 2012 meeting among himself, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and Menendez.
At that meeting, Menendez advocated directly to Secretary Sebelius on behalf of Melgen’s appeal of an HHS finding that he owed $8.9 million for overbilling Medicare in 2007 and 2008. That advocacy, the indictment charges, was the influence Melgen received from Menendez in return for his $600,000 contribution to Reid’s Senate Majority PAC.
That charge leads to an obvious question.
If Melgen’s $600,000 contribution to Senate Majority PAC was an illegal quid-pro-quo between Melgen and Menendez, does it not stand to reason that Melgen’s $100,000 contribution to the same Senate Majority PAC was an illegal quid-pro-quo between Melgen and Reid in which the influence Melgen received was Reid’s arrangement of and participation in the August 2, 2012 meeting attended by Reid, Sebelius, and Menendez?
Menendez benefited from the $600,000 that was earmarked to his campaign because it helped him sail to a 19-point re-election victory in deep-blue New Jersey. Reid benefited from the $100,000 that was not earmarked because he was able to allocate it as he wished to assist more vulnerable Democrat candidates in 2012. Those efforts were successful, and Reid emerged from the general elections with his position of Senate Majority Leader still intact.
Two former federal prosecutors tell Breitbart News that the Department of Justice, which indicted Menendez on Wednesday for his role “in the scheme to sell influence for huge campaign contributions,” has chosen “to downplay or omit salient details of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) participation in [that] corruption scheme.”
“The facts and circumstances outlined in the Menendez indictment clearly implicate the current Democratic Senate Minority Leader in the scheme to sell influence for huge campaign contributions,” former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova tells Breitbart News.
“It is obvious that the Justice Department chose to calibrate its charges so as to skip Reid. The timing and size of the contributions to Reid’s PAC coupled with his personal attendance at a meeting with Secretary Sebelius along with Menendez on behalf of the Doctor demonstrate facts sufficient to warrant further investigation,” di Genova adds.
“Having worked for the Justice Department for many years, I was taken aback, upon carefully reviewing the indictment, at the lengths to which prosecutors went to downplay or omit salient details of Sen. Reid’s participation in a corruption scheme for which they’ve charged Sen. Menendez,” former chief assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Andy McCarthy tells Breitbart News.
“I don’t understand, for example, how you go to the trouble of itemizing trivial gifts like Melgen’s buying Menendez a $360 steakhouse dinner but leave out Melgen’s giving $100,000 to a Reid-controlled super PAC just a few days before Reid — not Menendez — arranged a meeting with the HHS secretary to intervene in Melgen’s $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute,” McCarthy says.
A spokesperson for Senate Majority PAC attempted to distance the organization from the illegal activity described in the indictment.
“The fundraiser referenced in the indictment as ‘Fundraiser 2’ and Dr. Melgen are personal friends, and we were not aware of the full extent of their communication until the indictment came out [Wednesday] night. While we are confident that this was an isolated incident, the fundraiser in question is no longer with Senate Majority PAC,” Stephanie Potter, executive director of Senate Majority PAC, told Breitbart News in an email on Friday.
The New York Times reported that details about “Fundraiser 2” in the indictment appear to describe Jake Perry, a close friend and former aide to Senator Reid, who is currently an executive vice president with the Washington lobbying firm Crossroads Strategies.
Breitbart News has independently confirmed that Jake Perry is “Fundraiser 2.”
Potter’s claim, however, that Perry and Melgen are personal friends is made without any supporting evidence. What we know about the two men provides little information to suggest they are “personal friends.” Melgen is a wealthy Miami doctor who flies around the Caribbean on his private jet with a plethora of international girlfriends (from the Ukraine, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic), while Perry is a creature of Washington.
Perry does have a very close personal friend in Washington, however, with whom he’s been associated for decades: Senator Harry Reid.
As Perry’s biography at Crossroads Strategy states:
Jake Perry served as a senior political advisor and confidante to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for more than a decade. He began his service to the Majority Leader during his 1998 campaign and later returned in 2007 to become Executive Director of the Majority Leader’s Leadership PAC. He was a core member of Team Reid 2010, a small group running Senator Reid’s hard-fought and headline-making re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2010. For this, he received the 2011 “Pollie Award for Best Fundraiser” from the American Association of Political Consultants.
According to the indictment, Perry’s pursuit of Melgen’s donations to Reid’s Senate Majority PAC continued into October, 2012, when Melgen delivered the final $300,000 of the $700,000 total contribution.
The Senate was controlled by Democrats in the 112th Congress that met from January 2011 to January 2013: 51 Democrats, 2 Independents who caucused with the Democrats, and 47 Republicans.
At the time, it was far from certain that Democrats would retain their majority in the Senate after the 2012 elections. As economist David Rothschild wrote on June 15, 2012:
Democrats control 23 of the 33 Senate seats that are up this cycle, giving them much more territory to defend and many fewer opportunities to pick up seats. Of those 23 races, seven are open seats (i.e., the Democratic caucusing member is leaving the Senate), while four of the 10 Republican seats are open.
The prediction markets are aware of this, of course, which is why the odds that Democrats will retain their majority currently rest at 41.5 percent. That’s a major improvement for them since the beginning of the year, when their odds clocked in at 25 percent.
Some time in early 2012, Perry began pursuing a potential donation to Reid’s Senate Majority Super PAC.
On June 8, 2012, Melgen contributed his first $300,000, through his wholly owned company, Vitreo-Retinal Consultants.
On June 18, 2012, Melgen sent his private plane from Florida to Washington, D.C., where it picked up Reid, flew him to Boston for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser, then flew him back to Washington, D.C. In July 2012, the Senate Majority PAC reimbursed Melgen for that trip.
On June 28, 2012, Melgen contributed another $100,000, through his wholly owned company, Vitreo-Retinal Consultants.
On July 10, 2012, Reid’s schedulers arranged the meeting among himself, Secretary Sebelius, and Menendez.
On August 2, 2012, the meeting attended by Reid, Sebelius, and Menendez was held in Reid’s Capitol Hill office.
On October 16, 2012, Melgen’s Vitreo-Retinal Consultants contributed an additional $300,000 to Reid’s Senate Majority PAC.
“On or about October 19,” one week after he sent the second check for $300,000 to Senate Majority PAC, Melgen sent separate emails to Menendez, a key Menendez staffer, and Jake Perry that contained the same information, according to the indictment.
It was a memo from his attorney, the indictment reads, “entitled ‘The Secretary’s Authority’ asserting that ‘it would be appropriate for the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to intervene during the pendency of the Practice’s [Melgen’s $8.9 Million Medicare overbilling] appeal before the MAC [the HHS appeals board] to clarify that, as to the period prior to January 1, 2011, CMS policy permitted physicians physicians and providers to bill for overfill.'”
In February, 2013, as Politico reported, Perry opened his own lobbying firm:
A longtime aide to Harry Reid is opening up a lobbying firm — and he’s getting a ringing endorsement from the Senate majority leader.
Jake Perry, who has served as senior political adviser to Reid, has launched Jake Perry + Partners. The public affairs and strategic advisory group will focus on energy, gaming, commerce and financial services issues.
A press release announcing the news Friday included an endorsement from Reid, who said he will continue to look to Perry for advice.
“Jake played a critical role in my 2010 election, and has been an important part of the Democrats’ success in the Senate,” he said. “He is the very best at what he does and I wish him all the best in his new endeavor. As a native Nevadan, I know that he will remain a close friend and adviser.” . . .
Perry said Friday that 2013 simply “seemed the right time” to make a career change and that he plans to stay in close contact with his now-former boss as he transitions over to the lobbying world.
“I’m always going to be there for Sen. Reid whenever he needs me in any way. My first job in policy was with Sen. Reid and I’ll always be a phone call away if he ever needs me,” Perry told POLITICO. “He was very supportive, which made the decision of starting this much easier.”
Breitbart News contacted Crossroads Strategies by phone and email, requesting a comment from Mr. Perry. No one answered the phone at Crossroads and Perry’s name was not among the choices available on the voice mail system to leave an answer, though his profile remains on the company’s website. Breitbart’s email to Crossroads Strategies was not returned.