A Florida eye doctor who owes millions of dollars in back taxes to the federal government but who managed to shower Sen. Robert Menendez and other politicians in Washington with campaign donations had his offices raided by the FBI on Wednesday.
Two months ago, a report accused Dr. Salomon Melgen of West Palm Beach of providing trips to the Dominican Republic as well as prostitutes for Mr. Menendez, New Jersey Democrat and the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Mr. Menendez released a statement Wednesday denying the report by The Daily Caller website. He said the accusations were motivated by a "politically motivated right wing blog."
The Menendez statement referred to Dr. Melgen as a longtime friend and political supporter and said he took three trips on the doctor's plane — "all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately."
The raid was first reported by The Miami Herald.
Dr. Melgen is a prominent political donor to other politicians, including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
He and his family have doled out more than $426,000 in campaign donations since 1992. A large portion went 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.
Dr. Melgen's office did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday. On his website, the doctor says he has treated "presidents, governors, politicians, celebrities and actors" and that many traveled a distance to see him because of his reputation and skill.
"Dr. Melgen also advises domestic and foreign politicians on health issues in an attempt to improve community health care," the website states.
Even this year with tax debts totaling more than $11 million, Dr. Melgen and family gave $15,000 to Mr. Menendez's re-election campaign.
Most of the Melgen money went to Democrats, but some Republicans also have benefited. They include Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, who received $10,000, according to the watchdog group.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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