Rep. Curt Weldon can’t seem to catch a break. First, he found out that he was under federal investigation after his lobbyist daughter and her client, Itera, had their offices raided by the FBI. Then, to much ridicule, he attempted to blame the entire FBI raid on a liberal conspiracy involving Bill Clinton, Sandy Berger, and Jamie Gorelick. Now the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Times have decided to pile on with stories that are textbook examples of what is wrong with Washington. They describe an Italian defense contractor fêting Weldon at a five-star hotel in Italy and a $2 million earmark to another defense contractor, Dynamic Defense Materials.
Both contractors hired the same lobbyist, Weldon friend Cecilia Grimes, while the Italian company, Finmeccanica, also had a contract with Curt’s daughter Kim Weldon (not the daughter whose offices were raided). The case of Dynamic Defense is the clearest example of a pay-for-play system of the two new stories on Weldon. Dynamic Defense employs Weldon’s friend Grimes as its lobbyist, they dish out $11,000 in campaign cash for Weldon, and, ta-da, Weldon slips a $2 million earmark into the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill.
These earmark for contributions and lobbying contracts are hard to prove to be anything other than unseemly and unethical. Weldon is, however, under investigation for allegedly using his position to help his daughter, Karen Weldon, obtain consulting and lobbying contracts from companies that he in turn aids. The Russian energy giant Itera has already had its offices raided in America and Weldon’s actions for the Serbian Karic brothers have also come under public scrutiny. The Finmeccanica story closely resembles these two examples that have already gotten Weldon and his daughter Karen into deep trouble.
This time around Finmeccanica’s subsidiary AugustaWestland hired Weldon’s other daughter, Kim Weldon, for public relations and to promote for them at trade shows. The Times story states that investigators have not said whether they are or are not looking at Weldon’s ties to Finmeccanica.
Now for the worst news of all, from the Associated Press: “Signaling retreat, House Republicans are scaling back television advertising in three highly contested races, officials said Tuesday, including Rep. Curt Weldon's bid for an 11th term in Pennsylvania and open seats in Colorado and Ohio.” Maybe Weldon should have gone on his Indiana Jones adventure to Iraq after all.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at another one of the members of Congress currently under investigation. To see this list refer to this Congresspedia page.