New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez has been hounded by news reports claiming that he patronized prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and in the U.S.
The scandal—kicked off by a November report in The Daily Caller—has led to Menendez repaying donor and friend Salomon Melgen $58,500 for flights to the Caribbean, raised concerns about Menendez using his influence to aid Melgen's business interests, and ignited investigations by the FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee.
The National Journal reported that Menendez's repayment to Melgen amounted to up 87 percent of his personal wealth.
But on Monday afternoon, The Washington Post reported a would-be game-changer: that one of two prostitutes appearing in a video interview released in November had recanted her allegations in an affidavit and claimed she was paid by a Dominican attorney to make false claims against Menendez and Melgen.
The article instantly went viral, with many Twitter users heralding the apparent vindication of Menendez.
The Associated Press on Tuesday reported, however, that the affidavit was unveiled by Vincio Castillo Seman, a Dominican lawyer from a prominent political family who had been accused of using his yacht with the New Jersey senator for prostitution-related activities by the same anonymous whistle-blower who kicked off the scandal.
An article published Tuesday by The Daily Caller says that neither of the two women interviewed for the November bombshell story were Nexis de los Santos Santana, the woman who is now claiming she was paid to lie. The two women provided their names, the report said, but they were not used to protect the privacy of the women.
In addition to paying women for sex in the Dominican Republic, Menendez was accused by an unnamed American escort quoted in February by The Daily Caller of frequently paying for sex in the U.S. The news website Gawker had previously reported that, according to neighbors, Menendez would have sex with attractive young women virtually every night at his apartment in Washington, D.C. "They were always in like four-inch heels, and it was definitely a different one every time," a neighbor living below the senator told Gawker.
The Washington Post quoted Menendez as saying Monday, "I've said all along, there are obviously some people, some interests using right-wing blogs that have been perpetuating smears about me and I hope that all the truth comes out, because they are nothing but that—smears."