Attack Ad Revives Unproven Allegations About Menendez Hiring Underage Prostitutes

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30:  Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) looks on as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivers the annual financial stability report to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on January 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Mnuchin said the Treasury can extend the government's debt limit suspension period into February before it exhausts its borrowing ability.  (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)
Pete Marovich

With under three weeks to go until the midterm elections, the GOP nominee trying to unseat Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) is hitting below the belt.

A new attack ad out this week from former pharmaceutical executive Bob Hugin revives unproved allegations that Menendez would regularly hire underage prostitutes during vacations in the Dominican Republic.

The ad misleadingly presents the allegations against Menendez as facts corroborated by federal law enforcement, rather than unsubstantiated claims originally pushed by the Daily Caller in a series of 2012 and 2013 articles.

The phony scandal helped obscure other, more credible allegations against Menendez, who was accused of accepting gifts and trips from his friend Salomon Melgen. A federal corruption trial against the two men ended last year in a mistrial.

Hugin’s ad claims as fact that “underage girls” accused Menendez of hiring them for sex, and that “President Obama’s Justice Department” sat on “evidence” that the New Jersey Democrat had done so.

These allegations take great liberties with information included in the affidavit provided by an FBI special agent tasked with attempting to corroborate the claims about Menendez.

Two women who first spoke to the Daily Caller in 2012 about their alleged liaisons with Menendez later recanted, saying they were paid to fabricate the stories, as the Washington Post reported. They claimed to be adult escorts.

This ad represents just a fraction of the $10 million Hugin has shelled out on negative ads as the race winds down, according to the New York Times. The GOP nominee is hoping to capitalize on Menendez’s low approval ratings in New Jersey, where his corruption scandals have cost him support.

TPM reported this week that the Senate Majority PAC is tossing Menendez a $3 million liferaft to spend on advertising to try to buoy him ahead of Election Day.

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