Entries in prostitution (5)


Sen. Menendez Prostitution 'Scandal': How It Happened

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez is demanding an investigation into the political operatives who may have been behind an elaborate plot to embroil him in an international sex scandal.

"I have no idea who is behind these efforts, but I hope that the press will pursue them as vigorously to find out who was behind these efforts as they did in the first place," Menendez said on Tuesday.  "All I know is obviously there must be interests were trying to defeat me in my election and who obviously did not want to see me in my role as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

It all started last year as Menendez campaigned for re-election.  Six days before the votes were cast, GOP operatives helped to arrange Skype interviews in the Dominican Republic with three women who all told ABC News the senator paid them for sex.  Two of the women repeated the claims to a conservative news website, the Daily Caller.

Their interactions with Menendez supposedly took place at the famed Dominican resort Casa de Campo and at the home there of one of the senator's campaign donors, where the GOP operatives claimed in reports that surveillance teams learned of raucous pool parties where "everyone [was] naked, of course."

But during the ABC News interviews, none of the women could produce identity cards with their names, and they all provided the same story almost word for word, as if they had been coached.

They were, according to a sworn affidavit filed in court this week by one of the three women, who says it was all a set up.

In the affidavit, she said that she and the others were paid to use fake names and make up a story about sex with the senator.  A Dominican official familiar with the case confirmed that the woman in the affidavit, identified as Nexis de los Santos Santana, was the same woman who wore a yellow blouse when interviewed by ABC News.

In her interview with ABC News before the election, she said her name was Michelle Rodriguez and that she had come forward because Menendez had paid her only $100 of the $500 she had expected.  She now says she was coached to make the claim.

"I think it's a pretty elaborate plot to take down a sitting senator," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  "I have no idea who would be behind this and who would go to such great lengths... who would fund this because it wasn't cheap."

ABC News did not report the allegations last year, but the Daily Caller ran a story and continues to stand by it.

While the allegations about the prostitutes may have been discredited, the senator still faces an ethics inquiry into his relationship with that donor who provided Menendez with private plane flights and for whom Menendez allegedly intervened to help obtain contracts.

Menendez has already been forced to amend his financial disclosure statement to account for the flights and reimburse the donor for $58,000.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


DHS Steps Up Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Oversight

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Department of Homeland Security's independent watchdog agency has stepped up its oversight of the Secret Service's investigation into the Colombia prostitution scandal.

A DHS official emailed ABC News Monday on behalf of acting Inspector General Charles Edwards to say that late last week the agency "notified the USSS of our intent to conduct a comprehensive review of this matter." The email followed an ABC News report that revealed that the inspector general's office had taken a back seat in the probe—leaving the Secret Service's own internal affairs division in control of the investigation into the conduct of its agents during what has been described as an alcohol-fueled night of partying in Colombia.

Normally, allegations that Homeland Security employees engaged in serious misconduct are a matter for the Inspector General's office to look into. But the agency previously told ABC News that it would instead be monitoring the Secret Service review.

The approach appeared to be the result of a special carve-out for the Secret Service forged a decade ago—setting it apart from the standard described in a 2009 internal DHS memo, which specifically asserts that the Inspector General is "statutorily responsible for conducting and coordinating all investigations" of wrongdoing by other Homeland Security employees. Sen. Charles Grassley told ABC News he was not comfortable allowing the Secret Service's own agents to oversee the investigation, especially because it remains unclear whether the raucous behavior in Colombia was a one-time lapse or the sign of a broad systemic problem.

"An investigation by the agency's own Office of Professional Responsibility is necessary, but it doesn't provide transparent, independent oversight without an Inspector General's outside perspective," the Iowa Republican said Wednesday. "There's too much at stake to leave any doubts that an independent investigation wasn't conducted."

In an email to ABC News Monday, Edwards said the agency had enhanced its role in the review. In addition to monitoring the Secret Service effort, the Homeland Security investigators and inspectors would also begin their own independent look back at events.

"Last week, with the initial stages of the USSS [U.S. Secret Service] internal investigation nearing completion, we notified the USSS of our intent to conduct a comprehensive review of this matter," the email said. "As we notified the USSS last week, [the Office of Inspector General's] field work is beginning immediately."

The announcement of a comprehensive review comes after independent watchdog agency had been sending mixed signals about what its role would be in the probe. When Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano testified on Capitol Hill last week, she told Grassley there is a standing agreement—"a memorandum of understanding"—between the Secret Service and the Inspector General that governs how internal investigations are conducted. "In these types of cases, where there is alleged misconduct, [the Inspector General] actually supervises the investigation but they use the investigatory resources of the Secret Service. That's how we are managing this one." That is not, however, how the Inspector General's office described the arrangement in response to questions from ABC News last Wednesday, in an exchange that occurred after Napolitano gave her answer to the Senate. Spokeswoman Rachael Norris told ABC News that the Inspector General is "closely monitoring" the Secret Service's investigation and will review it when it has been completed.

"We're monitoring their internal investigation at this time," Norris said. "We are not conducting an additional investigation at this time."

The Inspector General's subordinate apparently dated to 2003, when the Secret Service was moved from the Department of Treasury into the newly created Homeland Security department. Both the Secret Service and the Coast Guard, which was moved from the Transportation Department to DHS the same year, retained their internal investigative powers. On Monday, however, the agency said the only reason it did not launch its own, independent probe was because the Secret Service already had investigators on the ground in Colombia.

"In our oversight capacity, and in recognition that there were already USSS Office of Professional Responsibility investigators on the ground in Colombia, we determined that the USSS was best positioned to immediately initiate the investigation with the full understanding that they would keep OIG informed as the investigation progressed," Edwards said. "We have maintained close contact with the USSS, coordinating with them as their internal investigation continued."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McCain Calls Secret Service Scandal Briefing ‘Waste of Time’

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a private briefing on the status of the Pentagon investigation into the Secret Service prostitution scandal, the two top lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services committee expressed disappointment over the slow pace of the investigation and a lack of concrete information to emerge.

Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the committee, called Wednesday’s update on Capitol Hill, delivered by Vice Adm. William Gortney, the director of the Joint Staff, a “very disappointing briefing” and “a waste of time,” noting the dearth of concrete information about the scandal in which Secret Service agents and U.S. military personnel allegedly brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms prior to President Obama’s arrival in Colombia for a summit with Latin American leaders.

McCain expressed frustration that despite the committee’s obligation to conduct oversight on national security issues, there were few answers.

“They wouldn’t even have information as to who was in charge on the ground in Cartagena.  It was remarkable,” McCain, R-Ariz., said.  “There are clearly implications to national security when prostitutes were in these individuals’ rooms.  [The military personnel] have the schedules of the president’s activity the following day.  We need that information.  That’s our duty to have that information and make decisions accordingly.  This briefing today gave us no details on any aspect of it.”

“Our obligation constitutionally,” McCain added, ”is oversight of the activities of the men and women in the military and our national security.  That’s the job of the Senate Armed Services committee.  Right now the Pentagon is being totally uncooperative in allowing us to fulfill those obligations.”

Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the committee, was more subdued, telling reporters that he thought the briefing was “sketchy” but he also explained that “it was a preliminary briefing because the [Pentagon's] investigation is not completed.”

“The military is traditionally reluctant to provide details of an investigation before it’s completed because of their fear of undo command influence and the fear of prejudicing proceedings that might be carried out under the uniform code of military justice,” Levin, D-Mich., said.  “I was surprised that it was not fuller, but they gave us the reasons for why they proceeded this way, and that’s where we’re at.”

The Pentagon did not comment after Wednesday’s briefing.

Since the scandal broke on April 13, the Secret Service has moved quickly to investigate its officers.  Already, 12 agents either have been cleared of serious misconduct, have resigned, retired, or been notified of personnel actions to permanently revoke their security clearances.  Some agents could face firing for cause.

Levin said he was told that the Pentagon’s investigation should be complete by the end of next week and that he and McCain are expecting a comprehensive update the following week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NJ Mayor Resigns Amid Male Prostitution Scandal

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MEDFORD, N.J.) -- The mayor of Medford, N.J., Chris Myers, has resigned following months of allegations that the married father had hired a male prostitute while on a trip to California in October 2010.

The scandal began when the apparently disgruntled prostitute posted a picture of a man that looked like Republican Mayor Chris Myers lying on a bed, wearing only blue Calvin Klein briefs.  The man who claimed to be the male escort alleged that Myers, 46, had paid him $500 for the encounter, but did not fulfill promises he made to give the man gifts and a car.

The website created by the alleged male prostitute was taken down at the end of October, but a screen shot of the site shows the original post titled, “NJ Medford Mayor Christopher Myers Hired Me From…All I Got Were Lies & Broken Promises!!!”

In an interview with New Jersey’s Courier-Post in October, Myers refused to comment on the claims but did not deny them. But at a council meeting in November, he denied the allegations and called the Internet “a murky, anonymous place.”

Neither Myers nor other members of the Medford Township Council responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Myers resigned Monday through a letter to the town’s clerk and manager, posted in full on ABC News’ Philadelphia affiliate WPVI. Medford Township is about 20 miles east of Philadelphia.

“At this time, I feel it’s time to pass the baton, and allow others to take the reins and lead our town forward,” he wrote. “My work commitments will not allow me to devote the time that is needed in the months ahead. That is why, today, I am resigning from the Medford Township Council, effective immediately.”

Medford Councilman Bob Martin was selected to assume the vacant mayor’s seat.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Defends Husband: Prostitution Accusations Were 'Big Lie'

Photo Courtesy - Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASILA, Alaska) -- For the first time, Sarah Palin weighed in on the report from the National Enquirer linking her husband Todd to prostitutes in Alaska.

Appearing on the The Bob and Mark Morning Show, a radio call-in show in Alaska, the former governor said, “What hurts are the lies that come from Alaskans.”

She noted that the Anchorage Police Department denied the Enquirer story.  “Look at this recent BS about Todd supposedly being all caught up in a prostitution ring in Anchorage. And then APD had to come out and say bull, there’s no evidence," Palin said.

Indeed Lt. Dave Parker of the APD told the New York Daily News  "It was just guilt by innuendo, nothing else…There’s not one scintilla of evidence that Todd Palin had anything to do with this."

On the radio show Thursday morning, Palin added, “Heck, all they needed to do was ask me or ask Todd himself, ‘Hey, Todd, you been hanging out with hookers in Anchorage?’  And he’d tell the truth and obviously it was a big lie.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio