Daily Caller Denies It Paid Women to Lie About Menendez

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 22 2013 2:54 PM

Daily Caller Denies Report It Paid Women to Lie About Having Sex With Sen. Menendez for Money

Sen. Robert Menendez
Sen. Robert Menendez has denounced the prostitution claims as part of a "smear campaign" against him

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

A Dominican district attorney said Friday that a local lawyer confessed to police he was paid by someone who allegedly worked for the conservative website Daily Caller to find prostitutes who would lie about having sex with Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat of New Jersey, reports the Washington Post. The Daily Caller quickly denied the allegation, calling it “categorically false,” according to Politico. The Daily Caller also reports the story but says Figueroa blames three other news outlets as well—CNN, Univision, and Telemundo—for “encouraging” him to fabricate the story, although it notes the payment did allegedly come from the Daily Caller.

Jose Antonio Polanco, a district attorney for the La Romana region says local lawyer Melanio Figueroa claims he was approached by a foreign man offering him $5,000 to find women willing to make claims about Menendez. Figueroa allegedly received a $2,000 advance from the foreign man, who said his name was Carlos and did not offer any identification or proof of his connection to the site run by Tucker Carlson. As you might recall, days before last year's election, the site posted video of two women, with their faces obscured, claiming they had sex with Menendez for money. Last month the Post reported the FBI could not find evidence of the prostitution claims and Dominican authorities later released an affidavit from one of the women saying she had been paid to appear in the video.

The Daily Caller said:

At no point did any money change hands between The Daily Caller and any sources or individuals connected with this investigation, nor did anyone named Carlos travel to the Dominican Republic on behalf of The Daily Caller. As recently as two weeks ago, Figueroa was on record with another news outlet as saying the women he represented were telling the truth about their initial allegations against Senator Menendez.
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Earlier this month Figueroa told the New York Times the women had been telling the truth. “It seems clear to me Figueroa is under pressure to change his story,” Carlson said in a statement. “What I know for certain is this claim is a lie.” He added that the website he runs “never paid anyone, was never asked to pay anyone and of course never would pay anyone for this story.”

The search is now on for Carlos, with ABC reporting that someone with that name appears in a video of interviews the network shot with the same women. ABC never reported the story at the time because it had doubts about the story. When asked about Carlos, one of the women said, “He says he works for a newspaper or something like that." That same man was also the translator in the videos posted by the Daily Caller but the website denies it ever paid him.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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