The twists in the Robert Menendez saga just keep coming.The Washington Post reported on Friday that federal investigators are looking at whether someone set out to smear the Democratic senator last year, while he was running for reelection in New Jersey.
That question recently prompted FBI agents to visit the Florida offices of the brothers Alfonso “Alfy” and Jose “Pepe” Fanjul, to interview two of the world’s “wealthiest sugar barons,” whose holdings include Domino Sugar, according to the Post. Major political donors in the U.S., the Fanjul brothers are also the largest landowners and employers in the Dominican Republic. Last year, Alfy Fanjul reportedly called Menendez to express displeasure about the Senator’s vote to end the Agriculture Department’s long-running subsidy program for domestic sugar.
A lawyer for the Fanjul brothers’ company denied to the Post that anyone at the company was involved with the Menendez affair. According to the newspaper, Alfy Fanjul has personally called Menendez to assure the senator that he was not involved.
And it doesn’t even end there. The Post also reported that the FBI last month sought to interview a man named Marty Martin, a former CIA operative who has worked for a company competing against a Dominican port security company owned by Dr. Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist, businessman, and major Menendez donor.
Melgen has been at the heart of the story all along. As recently as last month, a grand jury was reportedly looking at whether Menendez improperly helped Melgen’s business interests. Last year, a shadowy tipster contacted a nonprofit government watchdog and, subsequently, ABC News and the FBI, with allegations that Menendez had patronized prostitutes while visiting Melgen’s home in the Dominican Republic.
The tipster went by the name “Peter Williams,” but his true identity has remained a mystery. The FBI appears to now have an interest in solving that mystery.