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Curt Weldon

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Curt Weldon served the 7th Congressional district of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 2007

Curt Weldon was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987 to 2007, representing the Seventh District of Pennsylvania (map).

Bio

Background

Weldon was born July 22, 1947 and grew up in a blue-collar family in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania. 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 attend and graduate from college. He selected this major due to the aggressive relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union and said that "[O]ne day, our relationship would change and the United States and the Soviet Union would normalize relations." Weldon also speaks Russian fluently.

Weldon wasn't active in politics until 1977, when he became the Mayor of Marcus Hook, PA. Prior to that, he served as an educator in local Delaware County schools as well as a volunteer fire-fighter 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 reviving his 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 in 1985 that continues to this day.

Congressional Career

Weldon first ran for U.S. Congress 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 has grown considerably since then, handily defeating Democratic opponents. It is interesting to note that in 2000, Weldon was re-elected with 65% of the vote even though Democratic Presidential Nominee Al Gore won Delaware County with 54% of the vote.

Weldon is now the third-longest serving member of the Pennsylvanian delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives after Reps. John Murtha and Paul Kanjorski.

Positions and Views

Weldon originally joined the Armed Services Committee and Science Committee. He currently chairs the Military Procurement Subcommittee under Armed Services. For the 109th Congress, he now serves as Vice-chair of the Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Homeland Security.

He founded the Congressional Fire Services Caucus to ensure safety in the Capitol and House office buildings. He even assisted in putting out a fire in then House Speaker Jim Wright's office.

In June of 1998, Weldon served on the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China, better regarded as the "Cox Committee." This select committee, consisting of five Republicans and four Democrats, was formed to investigate whether the Clinton Administration's waivers allowing U.S. military contractors to transfer military technology to China damaged national security. The Committee unanimously approved the final report which concluded that such actions did harm national security.

Iraq War

Weldon voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 that started the Iraq War.[1]

For more information see the chart of U.S. House of Representatives votes on the Iraq War.

2006 elections

In 2006, Democrats nominated Joe Sestak to face Weldon in his November 2006 bid for reelection. (See U.S. congressional elections in 2006) [1] In a closely watched race, Sestak defeated Weldon to take over the seat.

Meet the Cash Constituents

Links to more campaign contribution information for Curt Weldon
from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org site.
Fundraising profile: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by organization/corporation: 2006 election cycle Career totals
Top contributors by industry: 2006 election cycle Career totals

Controversy

Sun Myung Moon

Weldon spoke at the coronation of Sun Myung Moon "as humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent", on March 23, 2004. His office originally vehemently denied his attendance, then when he was revealed to be a co-chair of the event claimed that he had intended to attend but could not because of a scheduling conflict; then when a photo surfaced of him speaking at the event while standing next to a lifesize photo of him pinning a Unification Church medal on Moammar Al Qadhafi, stated that he had left immediately after the speech and had no knowledge of what else went on.[2]

Book Attacks CIA

In his book Countdown to Terror: The Top-Secret Information That Could Prevent the Next Terrorist Attack on America ... and How the C.I.A. Has Ignored It published by Regnery Publishing in June 2005, Weldon "denounces the Central Intelligence Agency, accusing it of 'gross incompetence' for dismissing an Iranian expatriate [see below] who he says offered critical information about terrorist threats, the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and Iran's nuclear weapons program." [3]

On June 27, 2005, Weldon spoke on the Congressional floor for 44 minutes, giving a speech that could be construed as an advertising pitch for his book. In the speech, Weldon talked about Able Danger, which was ignored by his fellow congresspersons. (Curt Weldon Congressional Record: June 27, 2005, US Government Printing Office (GPO))

Weldon also includes "commentary and proposals for intelligence reform, including a 'mass purge of the intelligence community' in which virtually the entire top tier of management would be fired." [4]

Weldon and "Ali"

"'Ali' is actually a cipher for Manucher Ghorbanifar, the notorious Iranian arms dealer and accused intelligence fabricator -- and the potential instrument of another potentially dangerous manipulation of American policy in the Persian Gulf region," Laura Rosen and Jeet Heer wrote in April 2005.

Ghorbanifar's "fervent advocate on Capitol Hill is Representative Curt Weldon, ... [who] has long nurtured a penchant for the dramatic. With a degree in Russian studies from West Chester University in his home state, Weldon has often displayed his language skills on official trips to Moscow to discuss Russia's 'loose nukes' and the urgent need for a missile-defense system. Since the end of the Cold War, he has carved out a niche as an expert on such truly frightening topics as nuclear proliferation and high-tech terrorism," Rosen and Heer wrote.

Weldon "often shows up in the press as a Cassandra warning against elaborate foreign plots, from terrorist hackers destroying the Pentagon's Internet capacity to North Korean nuclear weapons exploding in the atmosphere of the United States, creating an electromagnetic pulse that would cripple the nation's electrical utilities and electronic systems. He possesses a genuine gift for elaborating these nightmare visions, which he may have sharpened while reading the works of Tom Clancy. Indeed, he sometimes cites catastrophic attack scenarios devised by the suspense novelist, an acqaintance of his who has occasionally helped to raise money for Pennsylvania Republicans."

"Ali" is "a real person; in fact, he's a former Iranian government official. And so convinced is Weldon of the man's veracity that he has not only tried to persuade the CIA to pay Ali, he is also shopping a book based on the startling information that the Iranian exile has passed along to him."

Weldon has "met twice with 'Ali' in Paris, and maintained an active correspondence with him." Despite Weldon's efforts to "interest the CIA in 'Ali,'... the agency was wary because the informant won't elaborate on his sources in Iran."

Rosen and Heer stated that Ali's true identity is Fereidoun Mahdavi, who was "formerly the shah's minister of commerce and, more importantly, the close friend and business partner of Ghorbanifar, legendary arms dealer, infamous intelligence fabricator, and central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal that almost brought down the Reagan administration. It was 'Gorba,' as he was known back then to Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, the rogue National Security Council officer, who lured the Reagan administration into secretly selling U.S. missiles to the Islamic regime in exchange for the release of Western hostages."

North said that he knew Ghorbanifar as "a liar" and former national security adviser Robert McFarlane, "who approved the Iran-Contra arms trades, once described Ghorbanifar as 'one of the most despicable characters I have ever met.'"

WMD search in Iraq

Dave Gaubatz is a former Air Force special investigator who served as a civilian employee in Iraq for several months in 2003. In 2006, he claimed the following events transpired with regards to Weldon:

Gaubatz contacted Weldon and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), head of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, sometime after his service in Iraq. The congressmen were told by Gaubatz that Saddam Hussein’s WMD were stashed in four specific locations in Iraq. While Gaubatz says he had hoped the congressmen would try and persuade Defense Department officials to authorize a search of these locales, Weldon instead became interested in a “personal political venture” whereby he and Hoekstra would travel to Iraq and go digging by the Euphrates river for the missing weapons. According to Gaubatz, Weldon made it clear that he did not want the idea leaked to the Pentagon, intelligence officials, or Democratic congressmen.

Following a May 4, 2006 meeting, Gaubatz grew upset at what he felt was an attempt at politicizing the quest. "It was treated as an election issue that would get votes," he said. "I've never been involved in politics, so it was a very big eye-opener to me." In addition, Gaubatz worried that the congressmen may be in danger. He proceeded to contact a Washington Times reporter and alert her of the plan. Once Weldon’s office was contacted by the reporter, the plan was abandoned.

Neither Weldon nor Hoekstra has commented on the validity of the story. [5]

Boeing connection to son's racing career

Weldon’s son, Andrew, is currently pursuing a career as a racecar driver. One of his biggest sponsors as of July 2006 was Schaffer Motorsports, owned by Tom Schaffer, a senior employee at the Boeing Company. One of the sponsors of Schaffer Motorsports is Boeing Helicopters Credit Union, whose logo appears on the racecar Andrew Weldon drives. Boeing, in turn, is Rep. Weldon's top career patron, having given $62,050 to his congressional campaigns in the past.

Weldon has come to Schaffer’s aid in the past. Schaffer has a senior position with Boeing manufacturing the V-22 Osprey, a fighter plane which has been plagued by problems and been involved in numerous crashes which have killed dozens of U.S. Marines. In 1990, Defense Secretary (now Vice-President) Dick Cheney sought to end the Osprey. Weldon, however, formed the Tilt-rotor Technology Coalition, a group of House members who met weekly to save the Osprey. Ultimately, they succeeded. [6]

Justice Department investigation

On October 16th, 2006 the FBI raided the homes of Karen Weldon, Rep Weldon’s daughter, and Charles Sexton as part of a raid on six locations, four in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, Florida, in connection to an investigation into influence peddling by Weldon to aid his lobbyist daughter. A grand jury was impaneled in May of 2006 and has “obtained evidence gathered over at least four months through wiretaps of Washington area cellphone numbers” to determine whether Weldon “received anything of value” for his “support of the Russian-managed Itera International Energy Corp., one of the world's largest oil and gas firms, while that company paid fees to Solutions North America, the company that Karen Weldon and Sexton operate.”[7]

The FBI investigation is not just looking at Weldon’s support for Itera but is also investigating Weldon’s aid to other clients of his daughter including two Serbian brothers with close ties to former autocrat Slobodan Milosovic and one other Russian company. The investigation was initially reported by McClatchy Newspapers on October 13th, 2006.[8]

A subpoena was issued to Weldon before the November 2006 elections, but it is not clear when he was served with it. Members of Congress are required to report to their party leadership any time they are subpoenaed and the fact enters the Congressional Record if Congress is in session at the time. At the end of 2006, no mention of Weldon's subpoena had been entered into the record. If it was not served before the 109th Congress adjourned, however, it would not be expected to appear until Congress convened for the following session. [9]

Itera

Karen Weldon and Sexton opened their lobbying firm Solutions North America, Inc. in 2002 taking on Itera International Energy Corp. as their first client.[10] In May 2002 Rep. Weldon, along with 10 other lawmakers, went to Moscow to “[praise] the company as a prime prospect for U.S. partnerships.”[11] Itera had encountered strong scrutiny and criticism over whether they received “title to billions of dollars worth of natural gas resources from a state-controlled conglomerate called Gazprom.”[12] Prior to the Moscow trip the “U.S. Trade and Development Agency scrapped plans to award an $868,000 grant to Itera … because the firm refused to identify all of its owners.”[13] After returning from the Moscow trip Rep. Weldon repeatedly attempted to have the grant reinstated, going so far as to call a press conference to “call on the Bush Administration to release the grant.”[14] The investigation is looking at this attempted intervention by Rep. Weldon.[15]

In September of 2002, Karen Weldon received a $500,000 lobbying contract from the embattled Russian oil and gas giant.[16] Other reports state that Itera provided a "$170,000 startup fee and $300,000 more in monthly retainers."[17] On the 24th of September Curt Weldon introduced a resolution seeking “improved cooperation with the Russian Federation on energy development issues” and then proceeded to lead 30 of his fellow congressmen and 18 members of the Russian Duma to a Library of Congress dinner honoring Itera that was arranged by Solutions North America.[18][19] Two months after the dinner Rep. Weldon “led a congressional delegation to Eastern Europe” and “Itera paid for Karen Weldon to join him.” Stopping in Moscow, Rep. Weldon called for “increased imports from Itera and other Russian energy corporations.”[20]

Rep. Weldon has received checks totaling $8,000 from four people listed as Itera officers or directors.[21] Weldon has denied all allegations of impropriety in regards to his comments and actions regarding Itera and his daughter’s lobbying claiming that a conspiracy of Democratic operatives including Sandy Berger, Jamie Gorelick, former Pres. Bill Clinton, and CREW director Melanie Sloan are working to “slander” him.[22] Weldon also pointed out that the House Ethics Committee “looked into the allegations in 2004 ‘and found that I had engaged in no wrongdoing.’”[23]

Karic Brothers

In 1999 Curt Weldon met Dragomir and Bogoljub Karic, Serbian businessmen with close ties to then-dictator Slobodan Milosovic, while traveling with a congressional delegation to Vienna in an attempt to "broker a deal to end the war between Yugoslavia and the province of Kosovo."[24] Dragomir was a confidant of Milosovic and Bogoljub served in Milosovic's cabinet. Due to their close ties to the deposed dictator the Karics have been placed "on a list of Serbians banned from doing business in the United States." Since the U.S. and Serbia have normalized relations this list no longer exists, however the Karics still cannot obtain visas.[25]

Rep. Weldon has repeatedly attempted to help the Karic brothers obtain visas to the United States and has promoted their foundation, The Karic Foundation, to U.S. businesses working in Serbia. In March of 2003 the Karic Foundation signed a "renewable" one-year contract worth up to $240,000 with Karen Weldon's Solutions North America.[26] Solutions ultimately received $133,858 that year.[27] Five months prior to hiring Karen Weldon, Rep. Weldon penned a letter inviting Dragomir Karic to the States to discuss "humanitarian and charity projects" in "an effort to pressue the State Department to grant visas to the Karics."[28]

The federal investigation is examining an August 2003 trip that Curt Weldon took to Belgrade. [29] Bogoljub Karic and other Serbian businessmen helped plan the trip. According to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, "Weldon 'was visiting solely because of Karic,' whom he was trying to get off the U.S. blacklist".[30] In November of the same year Solutions North America paid for Weldon's chief of staff Michael Conallen to travel to Belgrade to meet with "U.S. Embassy officials to discuss Karic's visa problem."[31] After a Los Angeles Times article detailed his trip Conallen says that he went to the House Ethics Committee for guidance and was told to reimburse Solutions for the trip. Conallen claims to have done so.

House Ethics Committee investigation

In January 2007, two months after Weldon's defeat in the 2006 congressional elections, the House Ethics Committee released a statement saying that Weldon had failed to repay $23,000 worth of improper travel expenses that he accepted for a trip to Belgrade, Serbia in the summer of 2006. The committee promised to continue monitoring Weldon's actions with regards to the funds. [32]

Support for an Italian arms maker

In October 2006, the New York Times reported that Weldon was the principal congressional backer of Finmeccanica, an Italian arms maker. He had pushed for the company and its (often America-based) subsidiaries to be included in the selection process for several projects, including the construction of the new Marine One presidential helicopter. In a move that Weldon claims was unrelated to his advocacy of the company's cause, Augusta Westland, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, hired Weldon's daughter, a former social worker, to perform public relations for the company and set up booths at trade shows. A different subsidiary, Oto Melara, the maker of the 76 Super Rapid gun that Weldon enthusiastically advocated, hired his close friend Cecelia Grimes as their Washington lobbyist despite her lack of experience or a DC office. America-based subsidiaries of Finmeccanica and their employees have been some of Weldon's largest campaign contributors. [33]

Hired by defense contractor

In February 2007, Defense Solutions, an Exton-based company specializing in military services and sales, announced the hiring of Weldon as their chief strategic officer. His congressional experience, specifically his knowledge of "Armed Forces and emergency response communities work and what they need," was cited as the reason for hire. [34]

Former Chief of Staff agrees to plea deal

Russell James Caso Jr. reached an agreement with prosecutors in December 2007 over his role in falsifying financial disclosure records. Caso reportedly covered up $19,000 in income paid to his wife in 2005 by a consulting firm, Solutions North America, that had tied to Weldon.[2]

Caso's wife earned the money between April and August 2005, while Caso was Weldon's chief of staff. The Associated Press reported that Caso, during that period, "organized and attended meetings with high-level officials in executive branch agencies, including the Departments of State and Energy and the National Security Council."[3] During those meetings, Weldon and Caso "argued that the firm's proposals should receive federal funding."[2]

Caso failed to disclose his wife's income, and investigators said Caso "intentionally failed to disclose that his wife received payments ... even though he knew that he was required to do so."[2]

Committees and Affiliations

Committees in the 109th Congress (2005-2006)

Caucuses and Coalitions

  • Republican Main Street
  • Adoption Caucus
  • Biotechnology Caucus
  • Chair, Congressional Aerospace Caucus
  • Congressional Anti-Poverty Task Force
  • Co-Chair/Founder, Congressional Fire Services Caucus
  • Chair, Global Legislators Organized for a Balanced Environment Oceans Protection Task Force
  • Founder, Homeland Security Caucus
  • Homeland Security Committee
  • Co-Chair, House Oceans Caucus
  • Liberty Caucus
  • Medical Technology Caucus
  • National Security Caucus
  • Pro-Life Caucus
  • Republican Labor Council
  • Republican Policy Committee
  • Speaker's Advisory Group on Russia
  • Co-Chair, United States Congress - Russian Duma Study Group

Boards and other Affiliations

  • Member, Board of Regents of the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies [35]
  • United States Vice President, Advisory Committee on the Protection of the Sea
  • Member, Global Legislators Organized for a Balanced Environment
  • Member, Migratory Bird Conservation Commission

More Background Data

Wikipedia also has an article on Curt Weldon. This article may use content from the Wikipedia article under the terms of the GFDL.

Articles and Resources

Resources

Articles

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Contact

DC Office:
2466 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-2011
Fax: 202-225-8137
Email: curtpa07 AT mail.house.gov
Web Email
Website

District Office - Bridgeport:
63 West Fourth Street
Bridgeport, PA 19405
Phone: 610-270-1486
Fax: 610-270-1498

District Office - Upper Darby:
1554 Garrett Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082
Phone: 610-259-0700
Fax: 215-596-4665

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