February 8, 2013

ROLL CALL: Menendez Can’t Escape Mounting Reports.

The allegations against Sen. Robert Menendez may have started with unsubstantiated stories about trysts with prostitutes, but questions about the lawmaker’s conduct have reached the point where they’re not focused on sex.

A slow drip of national news reports about the New Jersey Democrat and his ties to Florida ophthalmologist and political donor Salomon Melgen have put his office on the defensive over an assortment of issues including a port contract in the Dominican Republic and a possible intervention in a Medicare billing dispute involving the doctor.

Menendez tried to move forward with his normal agenda Thursday, holding a morning roundtable discussion with Hispanic media outlets about immigration through the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force, of which he is chairman.

Even there, however, Menendez was pulled off-topic and denied he exerted improper influence to help Melgen in the Medicare dispute.

Related: Ya think? Menendez-Univision links may have influenced positive media coverage. “Turns out, there’s more (or less, actually) concerning Univision and Menendez: Univision Communications Inc. is a member of an organization called the United States-Spain Council, of which Menendez is an honorary chair. The council’s president: Menendez’s former aide, Pedro Pablo Permuy.”