NYT: Menendez “discouraged” US assistance to DR to boost contributor’s business

posted at 9:21 am on February 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The New York Times has a blockbuster update to the Robert Menendez corruption story, but an oddly passive headline for it — “Details Emerging in Menendez Case.”  The URL suggests that someone at the Gray Lady watered down an original headline, which describes the story more accurately — “Menendez Discouraged Giving Port Security Equipment to Dominicans.”  If you’ve been following the Menendez saga, you’ll already know why:

Senator Robert Menendez sought to discourage any plan by the United States government to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic, citing concern that the advanced screening gear might undermine efforts by a private company — run by a major campaign contributor and friend of his — to do the work.

The intervention with the Department of Homeland Security last month came even though Mr. Menendez has publicly chastised the Obama administration for not doing more to combat the surging drug traffic moving through Dominican ports.

And it came shortly after the senator’s friend, Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, arranged to meet with a senior State Department official, accompanied by a former aide to Mr. Menendez, in a related push to protect the port security contract, which is worth as much as $500 million over 20 years.

He wasn’t exactly subtle about boosting Melgen, either:

In a January e-mail exchange with Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Menendez’s staff did not mention Dr. Melgen or his company, Boarder Support Services, by name.

But the aide asked if the United States government was planning to donate additional port security equipment to the Dominican Republic. The aide explained that if such a donation occurred, the Dominican government, perhaps under pressure from criminal elements there, might intentionally limit the use of the equipment so that drugs or other contraband could still flow through the country’s ports on the way to the United States.

Only by hiring the unnamed private contractor, the e-mail said, could the United States be assured that port security in the Dominican Republic would be enhanced.

Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy tries to look at this from a charitable point of view, but prefers a more cynical take:

Viewed in the most charitable light, Menendez might have been genuinely concerned that the government of the Dominican Republic could not be trusted to screen for drugs on its own, and that a private contractor could do a better job. And Dr. Melgen might have simply been worried that further donations of equipment would undercut his ability to earn legitimate returns on his investment by providing the equipment himself.

A less charitable approach would raise questions as to whether Dr. Melgen could provide the same level of security as the government of a sovereign state, and why he wanted to ensure that he, and not Dominican Republic officials, would control the equipment. Likewise, a less charitable view of Menendez’s conduct might be that he intended to assist a donor and friend even at the risk of compromising anti-smuggling efforts.

Let me offer a point in favor of cynicism.  If in fact Menendez was entirely interested in the best possible port security for the DR and the US, why wouldn’t he have declared his conflict of interest in the matter and asked another member of the Foreign Relations Committee to handle the issue?  It might have caused a little angst among Democrats, and perhaps shaved a percentage point off of his double-digit election win in November, but it would have ensured that port security was the motivation and the result of the conflict.

Instead, it’s pretty clear that Menendez was intervening to the point of interfering with drug interdiction in order to pressure the DR to do business with his contributor.  And if that’s the case, the Senate Ethics Committee is going to have its options limited when it has to determine what to do with Menendez.  With the New York Times now breaking these kinds of “details,” albeit with porridge-like headlines, the pressure will be on Democrats to clean their own house.


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Rand Paul once forgot to tip his waitress so obviously he hates women. Can we concentrate on the real issues here?

Bishop on February 11, 2013 at 9:24 AM

Alternate Headline: NY Times surprisingly doing it’s job for once

gsherin on February 11, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Circling the wagons
-dems

Crickets from lsm

cmsinaz on February 11, 2013 at 9:28 AM

A less charitable approach would raise questions as to whether Dr. Melgen could provide the same level of security as the government of a sovereign state,

What is a medical doctor doing providing port security to a foreign country? I could understand investments in various businesses, including race horses, but providing port security to a third world country? WTF?

rbj on February 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM

And yet Durbin thinks that Menendez should “keep the gavel” as head of the Foreign Relations Committee.
http://www.politico.com/blogs/politico-live/2013/02/durbin-menendez-should-keep-gavel-despite-ethics-scandal-156583.html?hp=l11

Menendez has bigger ethics problems than soliciting underage hookers, Durbin.

onlineanalyst on February 11, 2013 at 9:36 AM

…the NYT’s is trying to do it’s job…for once?

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Is it possible Melgen was/is trying to control the drug business himself?After all he is based in Florida.

docflash on February 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

the pressure will be on Democrats to clean their own house

That would leave us with 0 Democrats.

hillsoftx on February 11, 2013 at 9:46 AM

the Senate Ethics Committee is going to have its options limited when it has to determine what to do with Menendez. With the New York Times now breaking these kinds of “details,” albeit with porridge-like headlines, the pressure will be on Democrats to clean their own house.

…no…somehow the swamp will be preserved… for ecological reasons!

KOOLAID2 on February 11, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Why in the world is the NYT actually reporting on democrat corruption? Something is fishy……

ctmom on February 11, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Alternative headline: “Liberal ethnic senator claims private contractor can do a better job than the government.”

drivingtheview on February 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM

Senator Robert Menendez sought to discourage any plan by the United States government to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic, citing concern that the advanced screening gear might undermine efforts by a private company — run by a major campaign contributor and friend of his — to do the work.
==============================================

Wow,playing/trading politics,……..for American Security!

canopfor on February 11, 2013 at 9:58 AM

Wait a minute:

Melgen or his company, Boarder Support Services, by name.

BoArder?

Seriously? Is that in the original NYT article? Is that really the way they spelled the name of the company?

That’s the quality you get with Federal ‘disadvantaged-owned business’ preferences.

Ronchris on February 11, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Isn’t it interesting how few comments a thread about corruption gets? I’m not sure if it is because we all think it is SOS or we don’t feel we can do anything about it. Chances are the people of N.J., given the choice, would keep Menendez but that’s not just the money of his constituents that he’s stealing.

Cindy Munford on February 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Zero mention of the underage hookers… Walter Duranty would be so proud of his NYTimes.

DANEgerus on February 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

Why in the world is the NYT actually reporting on democrat corruption? Something is fishy……

ctmom on February 11, 2013 at 9:52 AM

It’s called throwing a bone to a starving dog. Menendez is probably finished (underaged prostitutes) so the NYTimes goes after him in order to appear to be nonpartisan. The Chinese Communist Party does the same thing with a few corrupt local officials every now and again.

rbj on February 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM

What is a medical doctor doing providing port security to a foreign country? I could understand investments in various businesses, including race horses, but providing port security to a third world country? WTF?

rbj on February 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Bigger picture – Dr. Melgen probably controls the drug trade in the Dominican Republic.
Menendez can’t have the feds cracking down on his sugar daddy…..

redguy on February 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM

What is a medical doctor doing providing port security to a foreign country? I could understand investments in various businesses, including race horses, but providing port security to a third world country? WTF?

rbj on February 11, 2013 at 9:33 AM

This is Latin America. Being one of the rich means you get wonderful perks like this.. It’s how they do things. People with money have power and they keep it that way…

Show me a Latin government that is not rife with corruption…

Menendez is lying through his teeth. ..probably a pedophile..

The D.C. crowd has a disease… They need to be eradicated..

RockyJ. on February 11, 2013 at 10:45 AM

So, could Senator El Corrupto be involved in drug running also?

newpine on February 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Is it possible Melgen was/is trying to control the drug business himself?After all he is based in Florida.

docflash on February 11, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Bigger picture – Dr. Melgen probably controls the drug trade in the Dominican Republic.
Menendez can’t have the feds cracking down on his sugar daddy…..

redguy on February 11, 2013 at 10:34 AM

That’s what I’m thinking…

Senator Robert Menendez sought to discourage any plan by the United States government to donate port security equipment to the Dominican Republic, citing concern that the advanced screening gear might undermine efforts by a private company — run by a major campaign contributor and friend of his — to do the work.

How much money does Dr. Melgen make from providing “security” TO the drug trade?

If the government of the Dominican Republic received the donated port security equipment, they might detect and prevent drug shipments. But with that donated equipment in the hands of Dr. Melgen, he could be paid by both the U.S. government and the drug lords to provide “security”… he tells the U.S. that he’s stopped the drug flow, while the drugs still flow undetected and he gets paid to ensure that flow continues. And he contributes large sums to Senator Menendez to ensure that the U.S. government does not do anything that could jeopardize that flow of both drugs and money.

ITguy on February 11, 2013 at 11:22 AM

the pressure will be on Democrats to clean their own house.

Senate Ethics Committee: Senator Menendez takes full responsibility for his actions….next!
Dems ALWAYS say they take responsibility for their actions, but there is NEVER any responsible consequences for them.

When, and who, was the last dem to resign from the senate….wait….I can’t hear anything but crickets. Bob Torrecelli didn’t resign, he withdrew from the race. Oh and he never said he did anything wrong, it was all a misunderstanding.

When “The right thing to do.” is the same for everyone elected, I will have some respect for them, until then they can all go straight to hell.

belad on February 11, 2013 at 11:23 AM

So, could Senator El Corrupto be involved in drug running also?

newpine on February 11, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Sex, Drugs, and Rock-n-Roll U.S. Senator.

ITguy on February 11, 2013 at 11:24 AM

The FBI is probably putting the squeeze on some low level traffickers.
Throw in some cell phone footage shot by under age hookers of
the Senator – nice feature film script……

redguy on February 11, 2013 at 11:55 AM

“You build bridges for years, and nobody calls you a Bridge-Builder. You bake bread for years, and nobody calls you a Bread-Baker. But you bang a stupid goat Dominican prostitute just once…”

Archivarix on February 11, 2013 at 11:56 AM

With the New York Times now breaking these kinds of “details,” albeit with porridge-like headlines, the pressure will be on Democrats to clean their own house.

The Earth will get hit by a meteor before the Dems will clean house. For that matter, same goes for the Repubs. Maybe we can get a meteor to hit DC and clean that place out for us.

TulsAmerican on February 11, 2013 at 12:20 PM