Top US senator Bob Menendez denies sex tourism claim as FBI raids donor's offices
The denial from Menendez, 59, who was re-elected to a second term last year, came as FBI agents searched the offices of a prominent South Florida eye doctor who is the donor linked to his alleged unpaid trips.
The FBI did not explain the motive for the raid on the offices of Dr Salomon Melgen, 58, saying only that it was "conducting law enforcement activity" in the vicinity of the medical-office complex where Melgen's West Palm Beach eye clinic is located.
The sprawling light-blue office building, usually buzzing with customers from Melgen's booming practice, was cordoned off on Wednesday as news crews stood watch outside. Investigators had been inside the building through the night, and at about 2:30 p.m. agents loaded dozens of cardboard boxes into a white government van.
The Dominican-born Melgen did not immediately return a phone call from Reuters seeking comment.
Melgen's name has been linked in recent months to unsubstantiated reports, first published on the conservative Daily Caller website, that he provided Menendez with free trips aboard his private plane to the Dominican Republic where Menendez allegedly engaged in sex with underage prostitutes.
"Dr. Melgen has been a friend and political supporter of Senator Menendez for many years," Menendez's press office said in a emailed statement.