Menendez intervened for Melgen on $8.9 million overbilling dispute

posted at 8:01 am on February 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Members of Congress often argue that all of the problems in Medicare and Medicaid can be solved by working on “waste, fraud, and abuse.”  The good news is that Senator Robert Menendez has been hard at work on the problem.  The bad news is that he’s been working to protect it, at least according to the Washington Post.  Menendez attempted to intervene on behalf of his contributor and travel partner Salomon Melgen to prevent the government from collecting nearly $9 million Melgen overbilled at his eye clinics:

Sen. Robert Menendez raised concerns with top federal health-care officials twice in recent years about their finding that a Florida eye doctor — a close friend and major campaign donor — had overbilled the government by $8.9 million for care at his clinic, Menendez aides said Wednesday.

Menendez (D-N.J.) initially contacted federal officials in 2009 about the government’s audit of Salomon Melgen, complaining to the director overseeing Medicare payments that it was unfair to penalize the doctor because the billing rules were ambiguous, the aides said.

Last year, in a meeting with the acting administrator of the agency in charge of Medicare and Medicaid, Menendez again questioned whether federal auditors had been fair in their assessment of Melgen’s billing for eye injections to treat macular degeneration, the senator’s aides said.

The agency had ordered Melgen to repay the $8.9 million, and at the time of both conversations, Melgen’s appeal was pending. That appeal is unresolved.

This seems to be the main reason for the FBI raid of Melgen’s offices in Florida last month.  Given the level of the “overbilling,” it’s hardly surprising to anyone except Menendez that suspicions of deliberate fraud have arisen.  Menendez’ office expressed their surprise to the Post that $8.9 million in overbilling might be fraudulent, claiming that Menendez has never intervened in an investigation of fraud.

This is the second intervention thus far known by Menendez on behalf of Melgen.  He also attempted to intervene with Dominican Republic officials to get them to continue a lucrative contract with another of Melgen’s companies for port security — even though Melgen has no experience in the field.  There are serious ethical and legal implications for these kinds of interventions on behalf of big donors, especially big donors who give free rides on private jets — or at least free until Menendez got caught, after which he had to cough up as much as 87% of his liquid assets.  With Harry Reid about to make Menendez the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, this is a particularly bad time for Menendez’ alleged corruption to surface.

That’s not all of the bad news for Menendez, either.  The FBI has decided to shift their investigation from Florida to Menendez’ back yard:

Two FBI sources have told The Daily Caller that the bureau’s inquiry into Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez is now based in New Jersey, not Miami. One added that pressure is mounting from the highest levels of the Justice Department to pursue the investigation.

The change of focus away from the bureau’s Miami field office indicates that the government is focused primarily on Sen. Menendez — and not on his longtime donor Dr. Salomon Melgen, as political observers have speculated. …

One source, a current agent in an East Coast field office, declined to be quoted but told TheDC that the initial investigation began in Miami and was later moved to Newark, New Jersey.

He would not specify who was managing the investigation or when it was moved north.

The other source is a recently retired agent with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Maybe they found something in Melgen’s files that drew their attention to Menendez directly.


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canopfor on February 7, 2013 at 8:06 AM

At this point four Americans are dead, what difference does it make?

Oh sorry…….wrong Democrat scandal. My bad.

PappyD61 on February 7, 2013 at 8:07 AM

That’s not all of the bad news for Menendez, either. The FBI has decided to shift their investigation from Florida to Menendez’ back yard:
=======

Hmmmm…I do wonder if there are buried Political Skeltons!
(sarC)

canopfor on February 7, 2013 at 8:10 AM

At this point four Americans are dead, what difference does it make?

Oh sorry…….wrong Democrat scandal. My bad.

PappyD61 on February 7, 2013 at 8:07 AM

PappyD61:

Lol,well,I’m thinking of hiring a Secretary to file
all these Democrat DeBaucherys,just to keep up!:)

canopfor on February 7, 2013 at 8:12 AM

I wonder who Christe will apoint

Aggie95 on February 7, 2013 at 8:13 AM

One added that pressure is mounting from the highest levels of the Justice Department to pursue the investigation.

To bury what evidence they can’t ‘accidentally’ drop into a shredder?

Liam on February 7, 2013 at 8:17 AM

For Obama’s sakes people, consider the sources! Victimized women, the FBI, and government investigators. That’s not good enough for Democrat voters and it shouldn’t be good enough for Hot Air either!

MNHawk on February 7, 2013 at 8:19 AM

Buh bye

Wait…. hes got a D next to his name…. dems will circle the wagons and defend him

cmsinaz on February 7, 2013 at 8:24 AM

I wonder who Christe will apoint

Aggie95 on February 7, 2013 at 8:13 AM

It can only be one of two choices….himself or Cory Booker.

belad on February 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM

It can only be one of two choices….himself or Cory Booker.

belad on February 7, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Unless, of course he wants to continue the corrupt-o-crats representing the folks in NJ, then he would appoint Bob Torricelli!

belad on February 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM

All’s well.
Harry Reid has his back !
I cannot wait to see ol’ Harry choke that one down.

BTW Thanks Canopfor for the LA thingy. Wild man on the loose !

Jabberwock on February 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Just scanned some NJ newspapers.The only story is the people in the DR are not interested.

docflash on February 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

At this point four Americans are dead, what difference does it make?

Oh sorry…….wrong Democrat scandal. My bad.

PappyD61 on February 7, 2013 at 8:07 AM

The really sad part is that you aren’t too far from the truth. With a D behind his name, the left will ignore this completely. I’m talking about the fraud. I’ve said for some time that the whoring with teenagers was just a distraction from the real reason why this filthy bastard should be run out of DC by an angry mob.

Happy Nomad on February 7, 2013 at 8:33 AM

All’s well.
Harry Reid has his back !
I cannot wait to see ol’ Harry choke that one down.

Jabberwock on February 7, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Yeah, I can just see Harry Reid now. “I’ve talked to Bob and told him how disappointed I am, we all are, in his actions. I hope he understands just how wrong it was for him to go the Dominican Republic and hire teenaged prostitutes when there are whores in Nevada that really could have used the work.”

Happy Nomad on February 7, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Funniest part of all this is that he was going to bat for someone OUTSIDE of NJ !!
If I was a resident of the state, I’d be pissed. Would not be surprised if the locals turn against him.
Corruption should be local.

Jabberwock on February 7, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Ms. Cupp’s attitude seems to be “We can win without votes from stinking moderates!” Well, she’s wrong and so are other conservatives who claim that the Tea Party movement proves it. When you get to the Senate and Presidential levels, it takes big bucks to drive a message despite mass news media bias.

Except this was disproven by the actual election results. Romney won moderates, but he appears to have lost the conservative base. A significant amount failed to vote for him. You can’t win with “just moderates.” It’s true that it takes big bucks to win, but you also have to be able to turn out your base.

What I witnessed last year was a party torn to pieces by people who assumed otherwise and too many Republicans who were condemned the candidate because he was “too moderate.” The truth was that he is more conservative than they were willing to admit, because he knew that one has to run to the middle in the general elections.

No, sorry, he wasn’t conservative in any way, shape or form. In fact, Romney supporters repeatedly insisted that running a left-leaning “moderate” was the only way to win and this was burnished as a plus during the primaries. His actual record has squat in the way of conservative accomplishments. All that was conservative about him was some vague statements made during his campaign. He actually sounded MORE conservative during the general than he did during the primaries.

You can win primaries with this “my way or the highway” approach, but you’ll get torn to bits in the general. Karl Rove knows this, which is why his group is named Crossroads.

The one who rolled out the “my way or the highway” approach was the party leadership, which immediately went after the Tea Party hard and worked with the liberals to torpedo more conservative presidential candidates to make sure no more 2010 elections happened. A good chunk of the party base, as a consequence, stayed home.

Baldylox is right. The Right Wing chose to sit in the woodshed and sulk; nobody sent them there. They were doomed from the start by their own failure to realize that this is marketplace for ideas, and they lost their share by becoming too narrow in their appeal. They don’t want to win elections; they want to be more Old Testament prophets and less salesmen.

See, in the real world of politics, when you want people to vote for you, you have to enact policies they like. The Republican party has spent a decade repudiating their base publicly, and voting against their preferences, and failing to enact any of their preferred policies. The last major conservative policy victory was the Bush tax cuts! Meanwhile, the left has produced victory and after victory for its constituents. You guys have no one to blame but yourselves for the base staying home, you aren’t entitled to their votes and you didn’t have to side with the liberals on issue after issue.

Frankly, it seems to me like the GOP leadership are the ones who have lost interest in winning elections. It’s clear that the plan for 2016 is to run ANOTHER “Mitt Romney” in the form of either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. No one was punished for Romney’s miserable failure (except conservatives). Karl Rove in particular should have been totally discredited after the 2012 disaster, and it appears instead he’s going to be handed MORE power. Frankly, the Republican Party looks more and more like it’s going to dissolve.

Doomberg on February 7, 2013 at 8:41 AM

cronyism, graft, hookers, and medicare fraud….just another day in the democratic party, eh folks?

ted c on February 7, 2013 at 8:41 AM

Corruption should be local.

Jabberwock on February 7, 2013 at 8:38 AM

The only way that would happen would be if things went the way I have said they should for years: No member of Congress can receive direct contributions from individuals or groups located outside his/her state. Of course, that would never happen.

Liam on February 7, 2013 at 8:43 AM

“It’s highly unusual for federal prosecutors to issue letters clearing targets of investigations, but they’ve now done so twice in two months…” – Feds tell Sen. Menendez 2006 probe now closed, subpoena had come in heat of election.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/10/feds_tell_menendez_2006_probe.html

Hookers lie or something…Move along…

workingclass artist on February 7, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Yeah but that Dubya guy had a speaking problem, once he even used the word “strategerize”!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

HAHAHAHA!

HA…

Bishop on February 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Buh bye

Wait…. hes got a D next to his name…. dems will circle the wagons and defend him

cmsinaz on February 7, 2013 at 8:24 AM

cmsinaz:Yup,a Resume’ EnHancement:)

canopfor on February 7, 2013 at 8:53 AM

Liam on February 7, 2013 at 8:43 AM

I should have put a sarc tag next to that.

There is just something funny about a NJ pol going out of state to be corrupt.
They like to own their own.

But, you are right.

Jabberwock on February 7, 2013 at 8:58 AM

This is the wierdest thread ever. Seems like several of the comments don’t have anything to do with the original post.

If Menendez goes down Christie has a real chance to start building a GOP power base in New Jersey. Is there another Christie out there? Someone who can attract votes statewide, as he does, and not just in the GOP districts in the west and south of the state?

MTF on February 7, 2013 at 9:05 AM

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canopfor on February 7, 2013 at 9:07 AM

According to JWF (via Ace of Spades HQ), Menendez has hired a friend of Holder’s to defend him.

Another go-nowhere ‘investigation’.

http://www.jammiewf.com/2013/clever-menendez-hires-former-holder-spokesman-to-defend-against-doj-investigation/

Liam on February 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Bob’s baggage is getting heavy. Time to resign before he is arrested.

Amazingoly on February 7, 2013 at 9:25 AM

One can sympathize with Melgen to a certain extent. The Medicaire/medicaid rules and documentation requirements are ridiculous. They are bad enough that my friend has made a mid-career change to avoid the hassle of having to go through the documentation when seeing counseling patients. She is leaving the counseling profession since there are not enough high-income clients in our area for her to not need to take medicaid patients. The only ones who can afford counseling are being paid and usually required, by the government, to seek treatment.

However; nearly 9 million dollars of oversight on the billing due to the inefficiency of the federal government isn’t logical. So Melgen still looks bad, and by assosciation Menendez does as well.

The second point I want to make is that Senators should be doing what Menendez did to a certain extent, sticking up for their constiutents to the government. Alas, Menendez does not represent Melgen and this looks and probably is as bad as it appears.

If Melgen really felt he was being shafted due to onnerous rules, he should have went through someone from the Florida delegation.

Has anyone unearthed whether he has given Rubio any campaign money? If Rubio plans on running in 2016, I would double check the books and be refunding any such contribution.

weaselyone on February 7, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Hey he was just being bipartisan…dealing for sex or money covers both parties well.

Don L on February 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

The Medicaire/medicaid rules and documentation requirements are ridiculous

Hey, the guy just had to use the law to find out what was in it! The Pelosi defense ought to work fine with this Justice Dept.

Don L on February 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM

…it is the fault of ‘right wing’ blogs!
…they fabricate this stuff!

KOOLAID2 on February 7, 2013 at 9:43 AM

There are serious ethical and legal implications for these kinds of interventions on behalf of big donors, especially big donors who give free rides on private jets — or at least free until Menendez got caught

Is it too early in the year for a presidential pardon? I hear Eric Holder is real good at getting them.

GarandFan on February 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

According to JWF (via Ace of Spades HQ), Menendez has hired a friend of Holder’s to defend him.

Another go-nowhere ‘investigation’.

http://www.jammiewf.com/2013/clever-menendez-hires-former-holder-spokesman-to-defend-against-doj-investigation/

Liam on February 7, 2013 at 9:15 AM

…and the MSM will ignore the story…yep…nothing to see here!

KOOLAID2 on February 7, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Is there any doubt that a guy who buys sex from under age girls is corrupt in other aspects of his life? Good people of NJ, why do yu put up with this guy?

StevC on February 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

Dingy Harry defended this crook… birds of a feather….

rjoco1 on February 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM

So, remember when GOP Congressman Mark Foley was on the news every day for weeks because of some creepy emails to pages?? Is that worse than paying underage girls for sex? Worse, CHEATING those underage girls? Now, we have Menendez stepping in and CHEATING the US from it’s rightful tax monies?

Hello??

originalpechanga on February 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM

But WHY is the Obama-controlled DOJ going after him?

We don’t know the full story.

njcommuter on February 7, 2013 at 12:29 PM

According to JWF (via Ace of Spades HQ), Menendez has hired a friend of Holder’s to defend him.

According to this article, the Senator has already spent 87% of his assets
for two plane rides (not inclusive of the April 2012 ride). So now, with only 13% remaining, he is on the hook for at least one more plane ride that we know of and now his lawyers fee’s. As always, ‘follow the money’, it will be such fun to see where the cash comes from to pay his pending expenses.

BillyPenn on February 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM