Washington – A spokesperson for Sen. Robert Menendez said the New Jersey lawmaker hopes U.S. authorities join their Dominican counterparts in investigating the origin of reports he paid women in the Dominican Republic for sex.
Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright says Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, has maintained all along such claims are false and part of a smear campaign.
Her comments came after a Dominican police spokesman said Monday that three women were paid to falsely claim in videotaped interviews that Menendez paid them money for sex.
Enright says it's a crime to intentionally make false reports to a federal law enforcement agency.
The women, whose claims generated media attention in the United States, were hired by a Dominican attorney to make the videotaped statements, spokesman Maximo Baez told reporters. Two of the women received about $425 and the other was paid about $300, he said.
Authorities are seeking to interrogate the attorney, Melanio Figueroa, about the payments and have not determined his motive or whether he was in turn paid by someone else to set up the interviews, Baez said.
The women have not been detained.
The police spokesman was making his most detailed comments to date on an investigation into the source of allegations that Menendez had sex with prostitutes, including two who were underage at the time, while in the Dominican Republic with his friend and campaign contributor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, a south Florida doctor, and with Vinicio Castillo Seman, an attorney whose family is politically prominent in the Dominican Republic. Castillo and Menendez have denied hiring prostitutes.
The Washington Post has separately reported that Menendez is under a federal grand jury investigation over reports that he traded favors with a prominent campaign donor.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.