A woman implicated in prostitution allegations involving Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) is denying ever meeting the U.S. senator, according to a Univision interview transcript obtained by Politico.
Yaneisi Fernandez, a 21-year-old woman allegedly hired as a prostitute by a longtime friend and campaign donor of Menendez, denied any participation in such activities.
"I’ve never been to Casa de Campo, I’ve never participated in those activities, don’t know those people or that man," she told the Spanish-language news organization of Menendez and his friend, Dr. Salomon Melgen. Melgen and Menendez traveled together to the Dominican Republic in 2010.
Menendez has denied allegations of patronizing prostitutes during his trips with Melgen.
“Senator Menendez has traveled on Dr. Melgen’s plane on three occasions, all of which have been paid for and reported appropriately," the senator's office said in a statement last week. "Any allegations of engaging with prostitutes are manufactured by a politically-motivated right-wing blog and are false."
The prostitution accusations, first reported by The Daily Caller in November, resurfaced when the FBI raided Melgen's Florida home. As the Miami Herald reported, the doctor is facing an outstanding $11.1 million Internal Revenue Service lien for unpaid taxes from 2006 to 2009.
The Associated Press relays background on Menendez's trips with Melgen:
Sen. Robert Menendez's office said Wednesday night that he reimbursed a prominent Florida political donor $58,500 for the full cost of two of three trips Menendez took on the donor's plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010.
There was no public disclosure.
"The senator paid for the two trips out of his personal account and no reporting requirements apply," said Menendez spokeswoman Tricia Enright.
A third trip by Menendez aboard Melgen's plane – a campaign fund-raising journey to the donor's residence in the Dominican Republic – took place in May 2010. That trip was reported to the Federal Election Commission, said Enright.
Menendez categorized the other two trips as personal. The first was from Aug. 6-9, 2010, a round trip from South Florida to the Dominican Republic. The second personal trip was from Sept. 3-6, 2010, from New Jersey to the Dominican Republic and back.