Official links Daily Caller to Menendez hooker scam

A top Dominican law enforcement official said Friday that a local lawyer has reported being paid by someone claiming to work for the conservative website The Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie and say they had sex for money with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J.

The local lawyer told Dominican investigators that a foreign man, who identified himself as “Carlos,” had offered him $5,000 to find and pay women in the Caribbean nation willing to make the claims about Menendez, according to Jose Antonio Polanco, district attorney for the La Romana region, where the investigation is being conducted.

The Daily Caller issued a statement Friday saying that the information allegedly provided by the Dominican lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, was false.

The videotaped claims of two women, made with their faces obscured, were posted last fall on The Daily Caller. The site reported that “the two women said they met Menendez around Easter at Casa de Campo, an expensive 7,000-acre resort in the Dominican Republic… . They claimed Menendez agreed to pay them $500 for sex acts, but in the end they each received only $100.”

In its statement, The Daily Caller said: “At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation, nor did anyone named Carlos travel to the Dominican Republic on behalf of The Daily Caller. As recently as two weeks ago, Figueroa was on record with another news outlet as saying the women he represented were telling the truth about their initial allegations against Senator Mendendez.”

Tucker Carlson, who runs the website, said in a statement provided through his spokesman that The Daily Caller “never paid anyone, was never asked to pay anyone and of course never would pay anyone for this story.

“It seems clear to me Figueroa is under pressure to change his story,” he said. “What I know for certain is this claim is a lie.”

Earlier this month, Figueroa told The New York Times that he did not make up a plot to “smear” Menendez and his wealthy friend and donor, Salomon Melgen, and that one of the alleged prostitutes had been pressured to say she fabricated her account of sex with the senator.

Under police questioning, Figueroa said the foreign man, who said he worked for The Daily Caller but did not provide identification, asked him to arrange staged interviews, Polanco said.

Polanco said that Figueroa gave police an account describing his involvement in the taping, starting in October. He said he was approached by Carlos about the idea last fall, and they met in a small bar in a Santo Domingo shopping center to discuss the details, according to Polanco. He said the foreign man gave Figueroa a $2,000 “advance,” the lawyer told police, to make the arrangements for the interview.

In comments reported by Univision, Polanco said that Figueroa stated he was been contacted by four media outlets – Telemundo, Univision, CNN en Español, and The Daily Caller – that were interested in having interviews with the women. But Figueroa told police it was only “Carlos,” who identified himself as working for the Daily Caller, who came to the Dominican Republic and paid him to arrange the recorded interviews, according to an interview with Polanco.

Figueroa has not responded to requests for comment.

The account provided that Dominican authorities said they received from Figueroa could not be independently confirmed by The Washington Post.

Earlier this week, Dominican police said three women were paid to lie about having sex for money with Menendez and a close friend. The police cited statements from the women and other evidence.

National police spokesman Maximo Baez Aybar told a news conference Monday that authorities had determined the women were paid hundreds of dollars by a local lawyer to make the false claims in videotaped interviews. The women said the lawyer coached them on what to say in their recorded statements, taped in a Dominican shopping mall in La Romana province. The women each said they were paid between $291 and $413 to say that they were paid them for while the senator vacationed in the Dominican Republic with Melgen. Each of the women told police they had never met either Menendez or Melgen.

On Monday, The Daily Caller posted an article saying that it “has not independently verified the identities of the women involved in the Dominican National Police investigation, but will continue to investigate the case.”

Menendez has repeatedly said the prostitution allegations were false smears meant to hurt the senator’s chances of reelection last fall and undermine his authority as the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Melgen’s attorney, Kirk Ogrosky, welcomed the account provided by Polanco on Friday and called for those behind the “campaign of lies” to be prosecuted.

“Information released today provides further evidence that the allegations against Dr. Melgen are false and politically motivated,” Ogrosky said in a statement. “We will continue working with U.S. and D.R. authorities, and remain confident that the truth will speak for itself.”

The Dominican investigation began last month when Melgen’s cousin, a prominent lawyer in the Caribbean nation, filed a defamation complaint. Vinicio Castillo Seman demanded an inquiry into anonymous accusations published on The Daily Caller website alleging, in part, that he had participated in sex parties attended by Menendez. Castillo has called the allegations libelous.

More in Local News

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Derrick “Wiz” Crawford, 22, is a suspect in the homicide of his roommate. (Edmonds Police Department)
Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

New leaders coming to county, state political parties

Hillary Moralez of Bothell takes over as chair for the Snohomish County Democratic Party.

Young woman missing from Mukilteo found safe

She called her parents and told them she was at a museum in Seattle.

Camano Island man gets 18 years for role in drug ring

He was convicted of helping lead a drug distribution network in four Washington counties.

Lake Stevens man missing since beginning of January

Jason Michael Knox White hasn’t used his credit card or withdrawn money from his bank since then.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Mom and brother turn in suspect in Stanwood robberies

The man is suspected of robbing the same gas station twice, and apologizing to the clerk afterward.

Nichols Brothers Boat Builders apprentice Janette Alhanati (left) and journeyman Kurt Warwick construct wall panels for an upcoming boat project with Linblad Expedition Holdings. A federal grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will allow Nichols Brothers to add more apprentices to its workforce starting in January 2018.
Whidbey Island boatbuilder gets hiring boost

The grant from the Northwest Workforce Council will help expand the company’s apprenticeship program.

Most Read