Curt Weldon

Curt Weldon
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2007
Preceded by Bob Edgar
Succeeded by Joe Sestak
Personal details
Born July 22, 1947 (1947-07-22) (age 64)
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Weldon
Residence Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
Alma mater West Chester University
Occupation high school teacher
Signature

Wayne Curtis "Curt" Weldon (born July 22, 1947) is an American politician. He served as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, representing the 7th district of Pennsylvania.[1] He was defeated in November 2006 for reelection by Joe Sestak. Weldon was vice-chair of the Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee. He was also the co-chair of the Duma-Congress Study Group, the official inter-parliamentary relationship between the United States and Russia.

Contents

Early life and education

Weldon grew up in a blue-collar family in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. He was the youngest of nine children. He attended West Chester University of Pennsylvania and earned a B.A. in Russian Studies in 1969, making him the first in his family to graduate from college. At West Chester University, Weldon became a brother of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

After graduation, Weldon was subject to the draft, with the Vietnam War ongoing. In November 2000, his office said he used student and teaching deferments during the Vietnam era, and had a low number when the draft lottery was reinstated.[2] In July 2006, a Weldon spokesman said that Weldon "wanted to serve, but the military would not take him because of his extremely poor eyesight."[3]

Early political career

Weldon wasn't active in politics until 1977, when he became the Mayor of Marcus Hook. Prior to that, he served as an educator in local Delaware County schools as well as a volunteer line officer chief for the Viscose Fire Company in Marcus Hook.

Weldon served two terms as Mayor from 1977 to 1982 and was nominated for election on both the Republican and Democratic tickets. His efforts as mayor were geared towards defending the town against the violent Pagans Motorcycle Gang.

From 1981 to 1986, Weldon served as a councilman and later chair of the Delaware County Council. Maintaining his interest in foreign affairs, he coordinated a USSR student exchange program in 1985 that continues to this day.

Congressional campaigns

1984 - 2004

Weldon first ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives for the 7th district of Pennsylvania in 1984 on the Republican ticket but lost to incumbent Democrat Rep. Robert W. Edgar. However, Edgar did not seek re-election in 1986 but instead ran for the U.S. Senate against Arlen Specter. Weldon then ran again for Edgar's seat in 1986 and won with a comfortable margin.

Weldon's margin for re-election grew considerably since 1986, handily defeating Democratic opponents. In 2000, he was re-elected with 65% of the vote even though Democratic Presidential candidate Al Gore won Delaware County with 54% of the vote.

In 2004, Weldon won with 59% of the vote. By contrast, Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry got 53% of the district's vote that year. Weldon's Democratic opponent, Paul Scoles, spent $24,000 dollars running against the nine-term incumbent;[4] in that 2003–2004 election cycle, Weldon received nearly $900,000 in campaign contributions.[5] Scoles entered the race in the last 90 days of the campaign, when the original Democratic candidate, Greg Philips, was called up for Reserve duty to support the Iraq War.

2006

Weldon's Democratic opponent in 2006 was Joe Sestak, a Vice-Admiral who retired earlier in the year after a 31-year military career. According to the Delaware County Daily Times, Sestak proved to be a capable fundraiser and raised more money than U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon.[6]

In July, CQPolitics changed their rating on the race from "Republican Favored" to the more competitive "Leans Republican."[4] On October 13, 2006, CQPolitics once again changed their rating on the race, from "Leans Republican" to "No Clear Favorite."[7]

On October 26, 2006, American Prospect magazine reported that e-mails recently had been forwarded to the Justice Department that describe alleged efforts by official members of Weldon's staff to call Navy employees for information and negative statements about Democratic opponent Sestak. In one Pentagon email, Weldon’s office is described as "calling everyone and his brother" in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) about Sestak.[8]

On October 27, 2006, the advocacy group Campaign for America's Future began running advertisements in Pennsylvania's 7th District questioning $233,840 in campaign contributions Weldon received from drug and insurance companies, in light of his voting history.[9]

On November 7, 2006, 56% of the electorate voted for Sestak while 44% voted for Weldon, leading to Weldon's removal from Congress.

Actions in Congress

Weldon's moderately conservative voting record (lifetime ACU rank: 69.9)[10]) reflected the overwhelming Republican voter registration in Delaware County, which has varied from a low of about 61.5% to about 69.5% of registered voters 1998-2006.[11] His voting record was slightly more conservative than the entire Pennsylvania Congressional delegation; Weldon's 2006 ACU rank was 68 vs. the average 2006 ACU rank of 57 for all 19 PA Congressmen.[10]

Domestic issues

Weldon founded the Congressional Fire Services Caucus in 1987 [1] and has consistently fought for increased funding for firefighters. He was the author of a bill that implemented a federal grant program for local fire departments [2] that evloved into the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program [3] . He has fought for mandatory safety sprinklers in college dormitories and training of fire departments to deal with terrorism incidents involving chemical and biological weapons. At times, his alleged pork barrel spending was challenged by fiscal conservatives such as Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake; Weldon once told Flake, "Doggone it, I’m not gonna let somebody stand up here in total and complete ignorance and spout off a bunch of gobbledygook. Don’t stand up on the floor and make stupid allegations because you want a headline about cutting waste. This is not waste."[12]

Weldon co-chaired the House Oceans Caucus. In 1995, his "Oceans Agenda" legislation passed Congress, increasing funding for oceanographic research projects. Weldon was the sole House Republican on the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission, which approves funding for U.S. wildlife refuges and wetlands preservation. Weldon is a member of Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment (GLOBE), where he serves as Honorary Chairman of the Oceans Protection Task Force. Weldon also serves as the honorary United States Vice President on the Advisory Committee on the Protection of the Sea (ACOPS). In his district, Weldon secured funding for the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum and obtained funding for the preservation of the Paoli Battlefield, the site of a Revolutionary War battle that was slated for development.

Weldon also co-authored the Family Medical Leave Act, pushed for the extension of unemployment benefits, has consistently supported raising the minimum wage, opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement, and voted for across-the-board tax cuts. He also played a key leadership role in welfare reform in the mid-1990s.

Foreign policy

In 1993 Weldon and Bob Dole, among other Republicans, advocated pulling out of Somalia after the "Blackhawk Down" failed snatch and grab mission of Adide cost 18 American dead.[citation needed]

Weldon has worked to promote a national missile defense system, citing a need to protect the U.S. against potential ballistic missile attacks from nations such as North Korea and Iran. In the late 1990s, he was one of the first members of Congress to speak out about the threat that chemical and biological weapons pose to U.S. security.[citation needed]

Russia and China

In June 1998, Weldon served on the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China, perhaps better known as the "Cox Committee." The committee, five Republicans and four Democrats, investigated whether the Clinton Administration's waivers allowing U.S. military contractors to transfer military technology to China damaged national security.According to officials who have been briefed about its contents, the report concludes that Beijing's acquisition of secret American weapons designs was part of an intelligence collection effort that spanned 20 years, including both Republican and Democratic Administrations. It also enumerates an array of thefts from the Government's weapons labs, including classified information about seven advanced nuclear warheads, among them the W-88, the most sophisticated nuclear weapon in the American arsenal; that theft is believed to have occurred during the Reagan or Bush Administrations. The report also says that China stole design information about the neutron bomb.[citation needed]

Weldon made improving relations with Russia one of his key efforts in the House. He has worked with Russian leaders on a variety of issues, including efforts to improve Russia's energy supply, correct environmental damage and protect both nations from ballistic missile attack. Weldon is the co-founder of the Duma-Congress Study Group, the official parliamentary exchange between the two legislative bodies. This bilateral relationship coordinates legislative efforts in the Russian Duma and the Congress to foster a better working relationship between the two nations. Recently, Weldon created a comprehensive framework designed to improve the state of relations between the two countries. Titled "A New Time, A New Beginning", his proposal makes recommendations for cooperative efforts in eleven different areas ranging from defense and national security to space exploration and scientific research.[citation needed]

Visits to North Korea

In June 2003, Weldon lead a bipartisan Congressional delegation to North Korea. The delegation didn't go as official representatives of the White House, which had repeatedly refused North Korea's demands that the two countries meet one-on-one. The White House did know the trip was planned and did supply a military helicopter.[citation needed]

Weldon said that the meetings went extremely well. Weldon said he drew up an outline of how relations could be improved between the two countries, which would involve the complete nuclear disarmament of North Korea. North Korean leaders, including the vice-foreign minister who is the chief negotiator for the North, were receptive to the concept, said Weldon.[13]

In October 2003, Weldon had planned to head a 10-member Congressional delegation to North Korea for his second visit. But two days prior to the October 25 departure date, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed Weldon that the administration was "pulling all support." Weldon then wrote a 4½-page letter to President George W. Bush that said that Bush's national security team was "arrogant and disrespectful" in the way it cancelled the trip. Weldon said he would continue his efforts to dialogue with North Korean officials whether the White House supports him or not. "They can’t stop me from going there", he said. "What they can do is make things supremely difficult."[14]

In January 2005, Weldon led a six-member Congressional delegation in a three-day visit to North Korea, as well as brief stops in South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. Weldon said Pyongyang was serious about abandoning its nuclear program, but he said it wanted certain assurances from the United States — the main one being that an end to what he called "inflammatory rhetoric" from Washington.[15]

In August 2005, Weldon went to North Korea as part of a 10-member delegation that included Ted Turner and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg.[16]

Visits to Libya

In 2004, Weldon led two bipartisan delegations to Libya. The first visit, in January, was to establish contact with government officials. The second visit, in September, was to address their Congress (Libyan General People’s Congress Great Jamahiriya).[17]

A large picture of Weldon putting what his office said was an American flag pin on Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi, the head of Libya, was displayed when Weldon spoke at the Sun Myung Moon coronation ceremony.[18]

In 2011, Weldon again visited the Gaddafi-controlled Libyan capital of Tripoli as a private citizen, on the invitation of Colonel Gaddafi. He is urging Colonel Gaddafi to step down due to bloodshed in the 2011 Libyan civil war. He currently is waiting to meet with Gaddafi, although he has met with several high-level members of Gaddafi's government. http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2011/04/07/former-rep-curt-weldon-on-waiting-to-meet-with-gadhafi/

Iraq, Iran, and terrorism

Weldon has frequently taken contrarian positions on such subjects as Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and pre-war Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. He has been critical of several federal agencies and of Congressional committees.[citation needed]

In June 2005, Weldon gave a speech on the House floor in which he described the Able Danger military intelligence program and said that it had identified a terrorist cell involved in the 9/11 attacks in 2000, a year prior to the attacks. He suggested that defense analysts had identified Mohamed Atta before the September 11 Attacks and ignored warnings that could have prevented the attacks.[citation needed]

Iranian informer

In mid-2005, Weldon's book, Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information that Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America ... and How the CIA Has Ignored It, was published. In it, he accuses the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and his colleagues on the House and Senate intelligence committees of ignoring his trove of information. These secrets, he says, come from "an impeccable clandestine source", whom Weldon code-names "Ali", an Iranian exile living in Paris. Much of the book consists of reproduced pages of "intelligence" memos faxed by Ali to Weldon’s office between 2003 and 2004.[citation needed]

According to the book, Iranian-supported terrorists were plotting to fly a hijacked Canadian airliner into the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station, 40 miles outside Boston. The book also said that Iran was hiding Osama bin Laden.[citation needed]

"Ali" was identified in April 2005 as Fereidoun Mahdavi, a frail, elderly former minister of commerce in the government of the Shah of Iran.[19] Mahdavi has said that the bulk of the information that he provided to Weldon originally came from Iran-Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar.[citation needed]

The CIA and former intelligence officers vehemently dispute Weldon's charges. Bill Murray, the former CIA station chief in Paris, said that, after interviewing Mahdavi on several occasions and investigating his claims, the CIA determined he was lying. The CIA says that Mahdavi never gave them anything specific about Iran's weapons capability or terrorist activities. As for Ghorbanifar, he is the subject of a rare CIA "burn notice" after the agency found him to be a "fabricator" during the Iran-Contra affair.[20][21]

Death of Bin Laden

In mid-March 2006, Weldon said that Ali/Mahdavi had told him that Osama bin Laden had died in Iran.[22] But in late April, an audiotape was released of bin Laden speaking of events. In an interview, Weldon said bin Laden "might very well be alive. 'Ali' may have been set up."[23]

Hidden weapons of mass destruction

Dave Gaubatz, a former Air Force special investigator who was as a civilian employee in Iraq in 2003, says that while in Iraq, he acquired what he considered reliable information about WMD caches in four locations that had gas and chemical weapons that were recently produced. He could not get U.S. military officials to look into the matter, so he eventually contacted Weldon and Representative Peter Hoekstra, head of the House Intelligence Committee, to share his information and to try to get them to pressure the Defense Department and intelligence agencies to do the WMD searches in four locales.

Instead, Gaubatz said, Weldon discussed a Hoekstra-Weldon trip to Iraq, under the guise of visiting the troops, that would detour to one of the locales. Once there, Gaubatz said, the congressmen planned to persuade the U.S. military commander to lend them the equipment and men to go digging for the cache. He said that Weldon made it clear he didn't want word leaked to the Pentagon, to intelligence officials, or to Democratic congressmen.

Gaubatz said that "They even worked out how it would go. If there was nothing there, nothing would be said. If the site had been [scavenged], nothing would be said. But, if it was still there, they would bring the press corps out." After a May 4, 2006 meeting, according to Gaubatz, he called a reporter at the Washington Times, who called Weldon's office to get confirmation. That inquiry, Gaubatz said, scuttled the project.

A spokesman for Hoekstra denied that Hoekstra intended to take an expedition to Iraq. Weldon's office refused to comment.[24]

March 2004 coronation

Weldon was one of six "Congressional Co-Chairs" for a Sun Myung Moon event on March 23, 2004 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, which was described in the invitation as being for the "Interreligious and International Peace Council."[25] The IIPC is a program of the Universal Peace Federation. Weldon's office initially denied that he attended the event and when shown the invitation showing him as a cosponsor said that he had been unable to attend the event.[26] They retracted those claims upon being shown photos proving his attendance, claiming that his participation was "limited to his attendance."[26] Investigative reporter John Gorenfeld then found a photo depicting Weldon as giving the opening "congratulatory remarks" from the stage.[26] Weldon gave a speech about his recent trip to Libya in front of a photo of him pinning an award on Muammar al-Gaddafi.[26] A spokesman for Weldon then said he "was not there for the crowning" and that "If we had known that Reverend Moon was going to attend the event, be crowned and make an unbelievably interesting speech, the congressman likely would not have attended."[27]

Criminal investigation and grand jury probe

As of April 2008, Weldon was still facing a criminal investigation by the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section for suspected unlawful ties to two Russian companies and two Serbian brothers with links to alleged war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. In a filing in mid-April with the Federal Election Commission, Weldon's campaign committee reported that it transferred $70,000 to the "Weldon Legal Expense Trust".[28]

When reports surfaced of this in September 2006, Russ Caso, Weldon's chief of staff, said that the congressman and his staff were unaware of any investigation.[29] Events followed in rapid order:

  • On October 13, 2006, it was reported in the media that the Justice Department was investigating whether Weldon illegally traded his political influence for lucrative lobbying and consulting contracts for his daughter. This represented a more serious investigation following on the heels of an FBI probe, ongoing for the past several months, into similar charges.[30]
  • According to a report in the October 15, 2006, Philadelphia Inquirer, the FBI and Justice Department's investigations were triggered by a 2004 article in the Los Angeles Times reporting on Weldon and his daughter Karen's links to the Russians and Serbians.[31]
  • On October 16, 2006, FBI agents raided the home of Weldon's daughter, Karen, as well as five other locations of Weldon associates in Pennsylvania and Florida as part of the investigation.[32][33] According to an article in the October 17, 2006, edition of The New York Times, "investigators are trying to determine whether Mr. Weldon misused his official position to help his daughter’s company obtain lobbying contracts from foreign clients and helped steer contracts to favored firms."[4] On October 17, 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Weldon "acknowledged yesterday that he was under investigation."[5] Before Weldon's public confirmation, an unnamed federal law enforcement official mentioned in press accounts said that Weldon had not yet been told about the inquiry because it was only over the last few months that the FBI had obtained evidence suggesting the congressman may have broken the law.[34]
  • On October 18, 2006, The Washington Post reported a grand jury had been impaneled as part of the investigation. Evidence reportedly had been obtained through wiretaps of Washington area cellphones; how those telephones were connected to Weldon, his family, or associates was not specified.[35]
  • On October 19, 2006, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Weldon has in his possession a letter from the House Ethics Committee that he claims "closed the case" about whether he used his influence to help his daughter.[36] Weldon said he has not decided whether or not to release the letter. Although emails from the Weldon campaign quoted by the Inquirer claim the Ethics panel "closed the case in 2004", the article reveals the matter was not dismissed until September 29, 2006. The Ethics Committee action is not binding on the Department of Justice investigation.
  • On December 22, 2006, the LA Times reported that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed Weldon's congressional records prior to the November elections. Because a member must notify House leadership promptly if they receive subpoenas while the House is in session to be entered into the Congressional Record, Weldon may have violated House rules depending on when he received the subpoenas.[37]

On July 17, 2007, The Washington Post reported that, as of Spring 2007, federal investigators were continuing to examine Weldon's official actions taken on behalf of his daughter Karen's lobbying clients.[38] The same article noted that Weldon had spent at least $30,000 in legal fees and related investigatory expenses as a result of the probe.

To this date, no charges have been brought against either Curt, or his daughter Karen Weldon, for anything related to the raids of 2006.

Lobbying and family controversies

In September 2006, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its second annual report on members of Congress with ethics issues, titled "Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch)". Weldon was one of the 20. The organization said "His ethics issues stem from using his position to financially benefit his children and a family friend."[39]

In response, Weldon spokesman Michael Puppio said there is "nothing illegal or improper about any of the actions mentioned" in the CREW report. He said the organization is a "front group for liberal Democrats who have a partisan ax to grind against Republicans."[40]

Family

Weldon and his wife, Mary Gallagher, have five children; Karen, Kristen, Kimberly, Curt Jr. and Andrew.[citation needed]

Karen Weldon

Karen Weldon, Curt Weldon's daughter, received an undergraduate degree in education and a graduate degree in information systems. After college, she spent six years working on "learning and training programs" for the Boeing Company, which has a helicopter plant at the edge of Weldon's district. A spokesman for Weldon said that he did not help his daughter get the job at Boeing, which is a frequent beneficiary of his work in Washington and one of his top campaign donors.[citation needed]

In September 2002, Karen Weldon, then 28 years old, and Charles P. Sexton Jr., about 40 years her senior, started a partnership, Solutions North America (SNA), which she said was "more of a business consultancy than a lobbying firm". Sexton is a political power broker in Weldon's district and the former owner of a security guard company, which he sold in 2003 for $6 million.[citation needed]

In February 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that all three known clients of SNA had ties to Curt Weldon:[41]

  • Itera International Energy Corporation, a Russian company, was Solutions' first client. In May 2002, Curt Weldon had led a congressional delegation to Russia and visited Itera. At the beginning of September, Itera paid the expenses for a trip he made to New York City. The next week, Itera told Karen Weldon it would sign a contract with SNA. On September 24, Curt Weldon co-hosted an event at the Library of Congress honoring Itera's chairman. On September 26, Weldon gave a floor speech praising Itera. On September 30, SNA received a $500,000 annual contract with Itera, with $170,000 up front. In November, Itera paid for Karen to join her father on a trip to Eastern Europe and Russia. In January 2003, Itera opened U.S. offices in Jacksonville, Florida, paying for Rep. Weldon to attend the opening[citation needed].
  • Karen Weldon said she found her second client, Saratov Aviation, a Russian aerospace manufacturer, in December 2002, through a family friend, who had worked with her father to foster U.S.-Russian business ties. In January 2003 Curt and Karen Weldon visited Saratov's plant in Russia. After the trip, Saratov signed a contract to pay SNA for $20,000 per month plus a 10% commission, both dependent on new business generated. After the trip, Weldon contacted the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) concerning Saratov's products. In September, Navair and Saratov signed a nonbinding letter of intent that called for Navair to seek funding to develop the Saratov's technology. In November the Saratov contract was rewritten to remove the commission (illegal for federal contractors) and to deliver payment to Solutions Worldwide Inc., another Karen Weldon-Charles Sexton venture. Saratov began paying the new firm $20,000 a month in December 2003.[citation needed]
  • Dragomir and Bogoljub Karic, associates of Slobodan Milosevic, paid $240,000 to SNA in March 2003. Weldon had championed the efforts of the two to obtain U.S. visas from the State Department, which had refused them entry. After getting the contract, SNA paid for Weldon's chief of staff Michael J. Conallen Jr. to take a "fact-finding" trip to Serbia in November 2003. Curt Weldon approved the trip, although House ethics rules bar staff from taking official trips paid for by lobbyists or registered agents of foreign companies, the two SNA partners are registered with the Justice Department as foreign agents. Conallen said he reimbursed SNA with his own money in February 2004 after The Times raised questions about the trip.[citation needed]
Intelligence officials have warned Weldon that the Karics are too close to Milosevic, who was accused of leading the "ethnic cleansing" in the former Yugoslav federation. But Weldon has praised the Karics, who own a vast empire of banking, telecommunication and other firms, as model business leaders and humanitarians. He has portrayed them as victims of faulty intelligence reports and, in January 2004, asked the CIA to sit down with them and sort things out.[citation needed]

Kimberly Weldon

Weldon has used his position as a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee to attract a range of defense companies to southeastern Pennsylvania. One such firm is AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of the Italian defense firm Finmeccanica. In January 2005, AgustaWestland won a $1.7 billion contract to build the new presidential helicopter Marine One.[42] Weldon was a key supporter in the win for the firm, which was competing with U.S. manufacturer Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.

In the fall of 2005, Agusta Westland hired Weldon's daughter Kimberly, working in the public relations office. She reportedly has a formal agreement with the company that prohibits her from lobbying Congress or contacting her father or his office on the company's behalf.[43]

On October 27, 2006, McClatchy Newspapers reported that Kimberly had also worked part time in 2003 for one of sister Karen's lobbying clients, a foundation run by the Karic family; Weldon has tried unsuccessfully to help Dragomir and Bogoljub Karic obtain U.S. visas.[44]

Andrew Weldon

According to the SS Racing Website, "22-Year-Old Andrew Weldon is a budding race car driver from Aston Township, Pennsylvania. He signed to a driver’s developmental contract with SS Racing in late 2005 for the 2006 season."[45] As noted in a September 21, 2006, article in The Delaware County Daily Times, citing the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) report on Weldon, "The CREW report compiles news reports in which Weldon, a member of the House since 1987, is described as using his powerful congressional position to help his daughters, Kim and Karen, son Andrew, longtime friend Cecelia 'CeCe' Grimes and close political associate Charles Sexton Jr."[46][citation needed]

The article then goes on to cite a Harper's Magazine report, noting, "(Harper's) reported in July that Andrew Weldon, a racecar driver, is sponsored by Schaffer Motorsports, owned by a senior Boeing Co. employee. Boeing is Weldon’s top campaign contributor." Indeed, a July 25, 2006, article on the Harper's website details the Schaffer/Boeing/Andrew Weldon connection: "Schaffer Motorsports...is owned by Tom Schaffer, a senior employee at Boeing. One of the sponsors of Schaffer Motorsports is Boeing Helicopters Credit Union, a wholly separate entity from The Boeing Company, whose logo appears on the racecar Andrew Weldon drives. The CREW report incorrectly states, "The relationship between Mr. Schaffer and Rep. Weldon is a long one." In fact, Rep. Weldon first met Mr. Schaffer during Andrew's first, self-funded and managed racing season at Bridgeport Speedway.[citation needed]

Other lobbyists

Cecilia "Cece" Grimes

In January 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that Cecilia Grimes, 40, who calls herself a longtime family friend of Weldon, was the senior partner in a two-person lobbying firm located in Media, Pennsylvania, where she is realtor.[47] The lobbying firm has clients from as far away as California whose with business involves one or both of the House committees that Weldon is a member of.

Grimes told the Times she has known Weldon for about 15 years. "I coached one of his kids in junior high school", she said, declining to elaborate. In 2000, she was his real estate agent in the purchase of a house in Pennsylvania. She has been lobbying since March 2003, when she opened a firm called CC Nexus LLC — now incorporated as Grimes and Young. Grimes' partner is Cynthia Young, 28, a lawyer who lives two houses from Weldon. Her husband, Robert J. Young, worked as a paid staff aide for four months on Weldon's 2004 re-election campaign. He is the son of U.S. Representative Bill Young (R-FL).

Grimes has signed up at least eight corporate clients, four of which are located in Weldon's district. The companies are mostly small firms seeking federal defense and domestic security funding. Among the most recent clients signed by Grimes and Young is Oto Melara, a subsidiary of Italian defense company Finmeccanica, the firm that employs Kim Weldon. On June 1, 2005, the company agreed to pay Grimes $20,000 annually.[48] Grimes was put in touch with Oto Melara by Weldon’s chief of staff, Russ Caso. But, Grimes said in an interview, her employment was not because of Weldon. "That's ridiculous", she said.[49]

Another client is Advanced Ceramics Research Inc., a Tucson, Arizona firm. Grimes lobbied about a dozen members of Congress, including Weldon, for a $3 million contract in 2005, which became the firm's first funding from a defense appropriations bill. The firm has since won a combined $43.5 million in Navy contracts and congressional funding. More than $5 million came from the Naval Air Systems Command, an agency overseen by Weldon's subcommittee.[48]

Grimes said that despite a lack of Washington experience, she has skills for lobbying. "It's all about networking and follow-up", she said. "My clients like my company, and that has nothing to do with Curt."[48]

Stefanie Reiser

Stefanie Reiser (sometimes spelled "Stephanie Reiser") worked from January 2000 to late 2005 for Weldon, handling fund-raising duties for Weldon’s campaign committee and for his political action committee, Committee for a United Republican Team (CURT PAC). She earned $54,659 as a fundraiser for Weldon’s campaign committee, and was paid at least $90,000 by CURT PAC for fundraising and reimbursements for travel, lodging and office supplies.

Prior to working for Weldon, Reiser was a lobbyist for Chambers Associates and served as former California Governor Pete Wilson’s representative in Washington. She registered as a lobbyist for Novavax, a company seeking federal funding for a vaccine, on November 13, 2001; the company paid her $20,000.[50] On December 6, 2001, Weldon and three other members of Congress held a briefing in which they and researchers from Novavax spoke of the need for a vaccine similar to the one Novavax was working on.[51] On December 24, 2001, Reiser donated $250 to Curt PAC, describing herself as "Self-employed/political fundraiser".[52]

Use of campaign funds

Between 1998 and 2006, Weldon spent about $80,000 of campaign treasury funds on restaurant meals. During the same period, Weldon also spent about $30,000 of campaign funds on hotels. He also spent $1,698 for a personal computer, delivered to his home; $4,618 for landscaping, paid to a company owned by a campaign contributor; and $13,000 in unitemized personal reimbursements during that period.

Congressional ethics rules say that campaign funds should be used for "bona fide campaign or political purposes". Weldon's attorney, William B. Canfield, said that ethics rules are "entirely amorphous", and that "you may think it's a big loophole, but he's allowed to spend money that way."[53]

Conviction of former aide

In December 2007, a former Weldon aide pleaded guilty for failing to report $19,000 in income that his wife made for doing work for a nonprofit company tied to Weldon.[54] The ex-staffer, Russell James Caso, Jr., is reportedly cooperating with federal investigators in their probe of Weldon.[28]

Post-Congressional career

After his election defeat in November 2006, Weldon joined Defense Solutions, headquartered in Exton, Pennsylvania, as the company's chief strategic officer.[54]

Additionally, Weldon joined the advisory board of Novo Energies Corporation, an alternative energy company converting used tires and plastic into energy.

See also

References

  1. ^ Map of the district
  2. ^ Marlene DiGiacomo, "Curt demands count of military ballots", Delaware County Times, November 23, 2000
  3. ^ William Bender, "Pa. GOP rips Sestak for wearing Navy uniform", Delaware County Times, July 27, 2006
  4. ^ a b Greg Giroux, "PA 7: Superb Fundraising Gives Sestak a Shot Against Weldon", CQPolitics.com, July 20, 2006
  5. ^ William Bender, "Lentz rips Weldon for taking contributions from Abramoff", Delaware County Times, January 6, 2006
  6. ^ William Bender, "Sestak’s coffers continue to grow", Delaware County Daily Times, October 4, 2006
  7. ^ Greg Giroux, "Navy Vet Sestak Coming Closer to Sinking Weldon in Pa. 7", CQPolitics, October 13, 2006
  8. ^ http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=12169
  9. ^ http://home.ourfuture.org/weldon/
  10. ^ a b http://www.acuratings.org/2006house.htm
  11. ^ http://www.dos.state.pa.us/elections/cwp/view.asp?a=1310&q=447072
  12. ^ CBS 60 Minutes, Rep. Flake On Cutting Congressional Pork. Consulted on June 27, 2007.
  13. ^ Kristin Smith, "Weldon: North Korea crisis 'very dangerous'", Delaware County Times, June 4, 2003
  14. ^ Timothy Logue, "Weldon in war of words with White House", Delaware County Times, November 14, 2003
  15. ^ "North Korea: Regime Said To Be 'Serious' About Giving Up Nuclear Arms Development", Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, January 19, 2005
  16. ^ "Ex-CNN president arrives in North Korea", Yonhap News Agency (South Korea), August 13, 2005
  17. ^ Testimony of Congressman Curt Weldon, September 22, 2004, U.S. House of Representatives
  18. ^ "Weldon, Khadafy and Moongate", blog by John Gorenfeld, June 12, 2004
  19. ^ "Hard-liners want evidence that Iran is up to no good. And they’re turning to strange sources to get it.", The American Prospect, April 1, 2005
  20. ^ Laura Rozen, "Curt Weldon's Deep Throat: The Pennsylvania Republican’s freelance spying has once again brought a discredited arms dealer's fabrications to the CIA.", The American Prospect, June 10, 2005.
  21. ^ Dana Priest, "Lawmaker's Book Warns of Iran: Weldon Accuses CIA, Colleagues of Ignoring Secret Information", Washington Post, June 9, 2005
  22. ^ "Curt Weldon: Bin Laden Is Dead", NewsMax.com, March 17, 2006
  23. ^ David M. Brown, "Source may have been deliberately misled", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 30, 2006
  24. ^ Tom Ferrick, Jr., "Indiana Jones? No, it's Weldon", Philadelphia Daily News, June 28, 2006
  25. ^ Image of host committee invitation list, March 23, 2004 event for Sun Myung Moon
  26. ^ a b c d Ron Gunzburger (2004-06-18). "SPINNING MOON". Politics1 blog. http://www.politics1.com/blog-0604a.htm#crown2. Retrieved 2007-06-20. 
  27. ^ "Lawmakers attend Moon 'coronation' in Dirksen", James Kirchick, The Hill, June 22, 2004
  28. ^ a b "Curt Weldon transfers $70K to legal defense fund", The Politico, April 16, 2008
  29. ^ Kimberly Hefling & Lara Jakes Jordan, "Rep. Curt Weldon faces FBI investigation", Associated Press, October 14, 2006
  30. ^ Greg Gordon (October 13, 2006). "FBI investigates Rep. Curt Weldon". McClatchy Newspapers. http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/15754123.htm. 
  31. ^ Todd Mason & John Shiffman, "FBI said to be probing Weldon", Philadelphia Inquirer, October 15, 2006
  32. ^ John Shiffman, Mitch Lipka and Patrick Kerkstra (October 16, 2006). "Agents raid homes of Rep. Curt Weldon’s daughter, close friend". Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/15772927.htm. 
  33. ^ Maryclaire Dale, "FBI raids home of Weldon's daughter, friend in influence probe", Associated Press, October 16, 2006.
  34. ^ Greg Gordon, "FBI investigates Rep. Curt Weldon", McClatchy Newspapers, October 13, 2006
  35. ^ Smith, R. Jeffrey; Leonnig, Carol D.. "Weldon's Ties to Serbian Businessman Part of Probe". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101701560_pf.html. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  36. ^ http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/local/states/pennsylvania/counties/philadelphia_county/philadelphia/15792573.htm
  37. ^ Schmitt, Richard B. (December 22, 2006). "Lawmaker's files sought by grand jury". Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-weldon22dec22,1,1682210.story?coll=la-headlines-politics&ctrack=1&cset=true. [dead link]
  38. ^ Kane, Paul (July 17, 2007). "Ethics Probes Keep Lawyers Flush". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/16/AR2007071601668.html. Retrieved April 30, 2010. 
  39. ^ CREW summary of ethics issues of Weldon, September 2006
  40. ^ William Bender, "Weldon blasts report labeling him corrupt", Delaware County Times, September 21, 2006
  41. ^ Lucrative Deals for a Daughter of Politics, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2004.
  42. ^ "US101 Selected By U.S. Navy For Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program", January 28, 2005
  43. ^ Ken Silverstein, "Another Trip to the Curt Weldon Employment Agency", Harper's Magazine, July 25, 2006
  44. ^ http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/15867608.htm
  45. ^ http://www.ssracingonline.com/DriverProfile.asp?DriverID=12
  46. ^ http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=17227209&BRD=1675&PAG=461&dept_id=18171&rfi=6
  47. ^ Re/Max page for Cecilia Grimes
  48. ^ a b c Ken Silverstein, "The right friend turns Realtor into lobbyist: Access to U.S. Rep. benefits Pa. woman", Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2006
  49. ^ Leslie Wayne, "Italian Arms Contractor and a Pennsylvania Congressman Share Close Ties", New York Times, October 31, 2006
  50. ^ William Bender, "Lobbyists under scrutiny", Daily Local News, March 2, 2006
  51. ^ Julie Appleby, "Lawmakers seek alternative smallpox vaccine", USA TODAY, December 6, 2001
  52. ^ Federal Elections Commission search results for donations to Committee for a United Republican Team (CURT PAC).
  53. ^ Ken Silverstien, "How Do You Handle a Hungry Man? Representative Curt Weldon Dines Out on His Campaign Fund", Harpers.com, May 4, 2006
  54. ^ a b Carol D. Leonnig, "Ex-Staffer To Weldon Agrees to Guilty Plea: Aide's Wife Was Paid By Boss's Pet Firm", Washington Post, December 5, 2007

External links

Media related to Curt Weldon at Wikimedia Commons

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Robert W. Edgar
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district

January 3, 1987 – January 3, 2007
Succeeded by
Joseph A. Sestak

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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