- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2013

The news organization Voxxi prides itself as an independent source of journalism for Hispanics across the United States unafraid to tackle issues ignored by the mainstream media, but there is one big story the online media outlet has all but steered clear of in recent days.

Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor who founded Voxxi, had his offices raided by the FBI last week, which drew renewed attention to reports from a conservative website just before the November election that he had supplied his friend, Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, with free airfare to the Dominican Republic and hired prostitutes for him while there — an accusation Mr. Menendez has angrily denied.

But while Voxxi has written dozens of articles mentioning and usually praising Mr. Menendez since its launch last year — including one headlined, “Senator Bob Menendez, a fighter for the middle class” — days passed before the news outlet acknowledged the FBI raid or the senator’s political ties to the eye-doctor donor.

Even then, the coverage came in the form of an editorial that referred to a “fierce campaign” under way against Dr. Melgen, whose attorney said last week he didn’t know why government agents had raided the doctor’s office.

“The campaign involves a complex network of anonymous accusations of prostitution connection, possible Medicare fraud and political ramifications in Washington,” the editorial declared.

Keynote speaker

When Voxxi launched last year, Mr. Menendez served as a keynote speaker for the gala held at the Newseum in Washington, which Dr. Melgen also attended. The company’s press release announcing the launch included a quote from Mr. Menendez congratulating the company.

Mr. Menendez has long been able to count Dr. Melgen as a reliable source of campaign cash. Despite an $11 million tax lien and millions of dollars in investment losses, Dr. Melgen and his family members have doled out more than $426,000 in campaign donations since 1992, with a large portion going to Mr. Menendez or organizations with which the senator has been affiliated, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Dr. Melgen and family gave more than $30,000 to Mr. Menendez’s campaign and nearly twice as much to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which Mr. Menendez led from 2009 to 2011.

A spokeswoman for Voxxi, Julissa Bonfante, said in an email exchange that the news organization takes pride in “objective quality journalism that educates, engages and entertains Hispanic America.”

She said Voxxi did not cover the accusations involving Dr. Melgen supplying Mr. Menendez with prostitutes because that story, first reported by The Daily Caller website in November, came from anonymous sources.

Concerning the FBI’s raid of Dr. Melgen’s office, which has been widely reported and could be related to many subjects, Ms. Bonfante wrote in an email Friday that Voxxi was waiting for a formal announcement from the FBI and that the news organization was continuing to follow developments closely.

The FBI doesn’t typically confirm or deny active investigations.

“During the election year, VOXXI highlighted and covered all prominent Latino leaders, including Sen. Menendez, Sen. [Marco] Rubio, Ted Cruz, and [New Mexico] Governor Susana Martinez, among others,” she wrote.

“We continue to have a robust political section that covers the news from both sides of the spectrum, which you can see from our current stories.”

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