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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I wonder what the FBI was really looking for


Robert J. Gurecki/Delaware County Caily Times, via Associated Press

Curt Weldon, crooked as a mountain road

Italian Arms Contractor and a Pennsylvania Congressman Share Close Ties

By LESLIE WAYNE
Published: October 31, 2006

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 — In November at the five-star Hotel Splendido overlooking the harbor in Portofino, a playground of the Italian rich, Representative Curt Weldon was the center of attention.

The second-ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Mr. Weldon was a main speaker at a conference sponsored in part by the Italian military giant Finmeccanica. At the gathering of Italian, British and American political leaders, Mr. Weldon, of Pennsylvania, spoke on behalf of Italian arms makers who were seeking a bigger share of Pentagon contracts.

Taxpayers paid for Mr. Weldon’s stay. He received a $1,153 daily expense allowance from the federal government and flew over on a military jet.

For Mr. Weldon, the conference was a victory lap. After several years of promoting Italian military contractors, the Italians had scored some big victories at the Pentagon. But Mr. Weldon’s efforts were equally beneficial for his district, his family, his friends and his campaign coffers.

Today, the Italians may well have second thoughts about their embrace of Mr. Weldon, who has represented his suburban Philadelphia district since 1987 and is now the subject of a federal investigation into possible influence peddling and, as a result, is in a tight re-election race.

The Justice Department is looking into whether he used his position to steer almost $1 million in consulting contracts from a Russian energy company and other Eastern European interests to a lobbying firm headed by his daughter Karen, 31. Her home and her office were searched two weeks ago by federal officials.

Law enforcement officials said they were examining a wide variety of Mr. Weldon’s connections with foreign companies, but they would not discuss whether the inquiry focused directly on Finmeccanica.


So why is an American congressman protecting the interests of an Italian company? Maybe because they hired his daughter Kim, who was a social worker?

posted by Steve @ 1:43:00 AM

1:43:00 AM

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