(WASHINGTON) — A prosecutor in the Dominican Republic is seeking to identify the mystery man called “Carlos” who, allegedly in league with Republican operatives in the U.S., helped set up television interviews with three young women who now say they were paid to lie about having sex with Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Jose Polanco, the public prosecutor in the city of La Romano, said the lawyer for the three women testified Thursday that the mystery man “offered $5,000” to find three women who would agree to go along with the scheme.
The lawyer, Melanio Figueroa, has given contradictory public statements about the incident over the last several weeks.
According to the prosecutor, Figueroa testified that the mystery man was named “Carlos” and alleged the man was connected with or worked for a U.S.-based conservative news website, The Daily Caller, although he offered no evidence to back up the claim.
The Daily Caller first published the allegations against Menendez a few days before voters cast ballots in the New Jersey senate seat race last year, based on interview with two of the prostitutes.
A spokesperson for The Daily Caller, Nicole Roeberg, denied the allegation that it paid Carlos or had any connection to him. “Never worked for us, never was hired by us, was not a source that connected us to anyone in the Dominican Republic,” Roeberg said in a statement to ABC News.
Someone named “Carlos” appears briefly in video recorded by ABC News last October during interviews with the same women, as he attempts to correct a technical problem with the video connection.
ABC News did not report on the women’s allegations at the time because of doubts about their identity and veracity, later proven to be well-founded.
When asked about “Carlos” during the interviews, one of the women said, “He says he works for a newspaper or something like that.”
At the time, “Carlos” was described to ABC News by the lawyer Figueroa, as an associate who was in charge of organizing the interviews via a Skype hook-up. There was no mention made of any connection between “Carlos” and The Daily Caller.
The Skype address used by ABC News to make contact in the Dominican Republic included the names Carlos and Martinez. A message sent by ABC News Thursday to the same Skype address seeking comment has not been returned.
A Republican operative who insisted on anonymity made the introduction between ABC News and Figueroa and “Carlos.”
Senator Menendez has denounced the prostitution allegations as part of a “smear campaign” designed to falsely implicate him in a sex scandal in the weeks before last year’s election.
He has called for a full investigation by U.S. authorities but has said he will not appear in person in the Dominican Republic to answer questions of prosecutors there.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Dylan Byers, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN