Police in the Dominican Republic said at a news conference Monday that three women who claimed last year that they were paid to have sex with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) were actually paid to make the false statements by a Dominican lawyer, the Associated Press reports.According to the AP, a police spokesman said officers had determined that two of the women got $425 each and the third was paid around $300 to make the false claims on camera. They were all paid by a lawyer named Melanio Figueroa, who is now being sought for questioning by Dominican police.
In November, the conservative website The Daily Caller published a story accompanied by a video interview with two unnamed Dominican women claiming to have slept with Menendez for money. Figueroa was identified as the women’s lawyer. The story was initially ignored by much of the media, but surfaced again this year, when correspondence an anonymous tipster had with both the FBI and a watchdog group was published online.
The tipster alleged that Menendez had sex with prostitutes at the Dominican home of the Florida doctor, businessman, and political donor Salomon Melgen. Those allegations were initially included in stories about Menendez’s relationship with Melgen, following an FBI raid of Melgen’s Miami offices. Reports originally indicated that the FBI was investigating both the prostitution angle and financial links between Menendez and Melgen. But reporting from various media outlets soon began to undercut the prostitution angle. Then, earlier this month, one woman in the Dominican Republic claimed in a court document that she had been paid to make up the claims. The Daily Caller initially stood by its original reporting, but eventually conceded that “several troubling elements in the story remain.”