In this Monday, Jan. 28, 2013 file photograph, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., right, and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., left, announce with other senators that they have reached agreement on the principles of sweeping legislation to rewrite the nation's immigration laws, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington. Menendez said Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, that allegations that he engaged with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic are false "smears." He said he has done nothing wrong and that allegations otherwise are "totally unsubstantiated." (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
This July 20, 2009 photo shows Dr. Salomon Melgen at his office in West Palm Beach, Fla. Sen. Robert Menendez's office says he reimbursed Melgen, a prominent Florida political donor, $58,500 on Jan. 4 of this year for the full cost of two of three trips Menendez took Melgen's plane to the Dominican Republic in 2010. (AP Photo/The Miami Herald, Hector Gabino)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Robert Menendez is acknowledging his office contacted U.S. health agencies in a way that would help his biggest political donor, the same doctor whose private jet Menendez used for two personal trips to the Dominican Republic.
But the senator denies he sought to intervene improperly in billing disputes between the doctor and the government.
Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, says Thursday he contacted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to ask about billing practices. This was during a dispute between CMS and Salomon Melgen, a longtime friend and donor. The FBI searched Melgen’s Florida offices last week.
Menendez says, “The bottom line is, we raised concerns with CMS over policy and over ambiguities that are difficult for medical providers to understand, and to seek a clarification.”