Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s interests as Committee on Foreign Affairs chair also dovetailed with the business interests of Melgen, who has crusaded for the Dominican Republic port-security contract to X-ray cargo.
A month after contributing $5,000 to Ros-Lehtinen, the congresswoman on April 10 wrote Aníbal de Castro, the Dominican Republic’s ambassador to the United States, a letter asking about “what specific steps your administration has taken to improve cargo security and reducing the flow of drugs to the United States and how we can work together towards achieving this goal.”
Ros-Lehtinen said she was writing the note because her committee was increasingly concerned that “the illicit drug trade and the presence of drug cartels may shift towards the Dominican Republic.’’
Over the years, Melgen has attracted both friends and enemies in his profession, mainly because of his high profile and wealth.
HAD MET MELGEN
Dr. Richard Shugarman, an ophthalmologist in West Palm Beach, said he met Melgen about 20 years ago when Melgen first came to the community after finishing training in Boston. Shugarman said he reached out to Melgen to learn about the new treatments he was using.
Shugarman said he helped Melgen on many surgeries in Palm Beach County.
Between surgeries, “he was frequently on the phone talking to people about business deals and stock, things other than medicine,” Shugarman said.
The two doctors sometimes socialized together with their families. Melgen would sometimes mention his political connections.
“I do know he was friendly with Gov. Chiles — he operated on him while he was governor,” Shugarman said.
“There was no question to me he liked his political connections but he never flaunted them or threatened anyone with them, not that I have ever heard of.”
El Nuevo Herald staff writer Melissa Sanchez contributed to this report.