The Bob Menendez Scandal Has Gotten So Weird

The Atlantic
The Bob Menendez Scandal Has Gotten So Weird
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The Bob Menendez Scandal Has Gotten So Weird

The scandal surrounding New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez has evolved from a sex scandal to a donor scandal to a weird mystery about who set him up, with the FBI talking to sugar baron brothers and an ex-CIA operative. Last fall, the Daily Caller showed videos of women who said Menendez had paid them for sex in the Dominican Republic while partying with a wealthy Florida eye doctor, Salomon Melgen. The women later said they were paid to make the claims. Then Menendez came under scrutiny for intervening with the Dominican government to help Melgen's port-security firm and intervening with the U.S. government to help Melgen's Florida clinic when it was charged with overbilling. Now the FBI is trying to figure out who plotted to bring down Menendez with the fake sex story in the first place.

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They've interviewed Palm Beach sugar magnates Alfy and Pepe Fanjul, The Washington Post's Carol D. Leonning and Peter Wallsten report, and have attempted to interview Marty Martin, a former CIA operative whose Dominican port-security firm was a rival of Melgen's.

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The sex story came from a tipster using the name Pete Williams, and Dominican police have tracked the tipster to a Santo Domingo cybercafe. Who is Pete Williams? The Fanjul brothers were suspected culprits because they were angry when Menendez voted to end sugar subsidies last June, but they have called Menendez to promise it wasn't them. Roger Stone, a former Richard Nixon operative, relayed a message to Menendez that he isn't Pete Williams either. And the FBI has tried to figure out if the ex-CIA operative might know who Pete Williams is, because his port security firm is competing against the firm controlled by Melgen, the Menendez donor. 

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It's a pretty confusing set of grudges and alliances, so to help clear it up, here's a map — green shows money, blue shows political power, and red shows commercial rivalry:

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