Menendez Donor Under Scrutiny Breaks Silence

Dr. Salomon Melgen, the Florida ophthalmologist, businessman, and political donor whose ties to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have been under scrutiny, has granted his first interview since his name hit the headlines earlier this year.“I don’t have any business interests at all that have been helped by any politicians,” Melgen told Bloomberg’s David Voreacos during an interview at his office in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

A grand jury is reportedly looking at whether Menendez improperly helped Melgen’s business interests. Melgen acknowledged to Bloomberg that he and Menendez have discussed a multi-million dollar Medicare-billing dispute and a port security contract in the Dominican Republic held by a Melgen company. But he denied any wrongdoing.

“I did not ask Senator Menendez or any public official to intervene in the pending overpayment case that I filed against [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services],” he wrote to Bloomberg, in response to follow-up questions after the interview. “My representative and I have discussed the lack of clarity in Medicare billing rules and CMS’s contradictory guidance with several public officials, including Senator Menendez and his staff.”

As for the port security contract — which is reportedly worth $500 million over 20 years — Melgen said “[m]y representatives and I have discussed with Senator Menendez the absolute failure of the Dominican government to honor its legally binding contracts with a U.S. company.”

Melgen, whose relationship with Menendez stretches back two decades, said he and the senator are like family.

“The senator and I have become like brothers, like friends,” Melgen said. “I talk to him weekly. I see him once a month. Not right now, since this whole thing has started. But we enjoy each other’s company. … He could do great things for this country, especially as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.”

Melgen also told the news service that he wants to repair his reputation, following the flurry of recent negative headlines.

“They took away my dignity,” Melgen said. “They portrayed me as a greedy guy who was with politicians for the quid pro quo.”

Read the whole thing here.