Washington Babylon — February 7, 2008, 12:00 pm

Curt Weldon: Back in business

Plus: News on the federal investigation

Former Republican Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania is currently under federal investigation due to charges that he steered business to a lobbying firm headed by his daughter. Now Weldon has started an international consulting firm and is using the contacts he established in Congress to steer business his own way.

Weldon lost his 2006 campaign for reelection not long after the FBI raided the office of his daughter Karen. Karen Weldon had little political experience when she began her lobbying career, but swiftly signed three contracts, worth roughly $1 million combined, with clients who had been helped in various ways by her father. To take one example, after Congressman Weldon repeatedly went to bat for Itera, a hugely controversial Russian energy firm, Itera became Karen Weldon’s first client, paying her firm $500,000 to “create good public relations so in the future Itera may sell goods and services to U.S. entities.”

During the past month, I’ve had conversations with multiple sources who told me that Weldon had now started his own consulting business, specializing in defense and homeland security. The staff at his consulting firm is said to include his daughter and former Hill staffers. While in Congress, Weldon held top positions at the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.

I’m told that one of Weldon’s clients is Hyundai, which is said to have retained the former congressman in regard to business in Libya. In 2004 Weldon led two separate congressional delegations to Libya, where he met with top government officials and called for a restoration of normal ties between Washington and Tripoli, and the lifting of American sanctions. (Weldon later suggested that he personally convinced Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi to give up his nuclear program.)

Weldon’s attorney, William Winning, confirmed to me that Weldon is now “engaged in international consulting.” However, he said, it was a private business and it would be inappropriate to discuss Weldon’s clients or the firm’s personnel.

As to the ongoing investigation of Weldon, the latest news came in December when it was reported that Russ Caso, his ex-chief of staff, “plead guilty to conspiracy charges for allegedly helping a consulting firm championed by Weldon obtain federal funds and for concealing money the firm paid his wife,” according to an account in the Washington Post. The Post said that a top official at the consulting firm “met repeatedly with Weldon to seek the Pennsylvania Republican’s help in obtaining federal funds for the organization’s defense projects.” The charges against Caso are relatively minor and he is reportedly cooperating with investigators.

The consulting firm that paid Caso’s wife has not been named, but several sources have told me that it is linked to Vladimir Petrosyan, a mysterious Russian business official who lived in Washington until 2006 when he suddenly departed for Moscow. A friend of the Russian’s told me that Petrosyan left the U.S. because “he was in a bit of trouble,” though he declined to say what type of trouble. (Petrosyan could not be reached in Moscow. Caso’s attorney, Kelly Kramer, declined comment.)

Petrosyan was a fixture at Weldon’s office and briefed him on Russian affairs. He also had a number of business deals cooking involving joint U.S.-Russian non-proliferation and security matters. Weldon, sources told me, helped him establish contacts with the U.S. government and promoted his projects.

In July of 2003, Weldon wrote an op-ed in the Moscow Times in which he mentioned his efforts to improve U.S.-Russian relations by working with Petrosyan and a Russian government official named Alexander Kotenkov. In March of 2005–the same month that he gave a speech on the House floor wishing “a very happy belated birthday to Karen Petrosyan, son of my good friend Vladimir Petrosyan” – Weldon testified before the House Subcommittee on Europe and Emerging Threats. During his testimony, he called for a sweeping set of trade, energy, and defense initiatives with Russia. Sources told me that Petrosyan was involved in some of the deals Weldon talked up before the subcommittee.

Sources familiar with the Weldon investigation also told me that the congressman’s relationship with Cecelia Grimes was being closely scrutinized. Grimes, a close friend of Weldon’s, forged a career as a lobbyist who specialized in helping out firms with interests before Weldon’s congressional committees. Weldon took steps to help out at least three of her clients.

Like Karen Weldon, Grimes didn’t have much relevant background before embarking on her lobbying career. A real estate agent in Weldon’s district, she had studied computer science at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and received a bachelor’s degree from Neumann College. (Grimes did have a well-connected lobbying partner, Cynthia Young, the daughter-in-law of Florida Congressman C.W. “Bill” Young.)

Winning declined to reply to questions about Grimes or Petrosyan, citing the federal investigation.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

June 2016

Trump’s People

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Old Man

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Long Rescue

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

New Television

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Improbability Party

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Helen Ouyang on the cost of crowd-sourcing drugs, Paul Wood on Trump's supporters, Walter Kirn on political predictions, Sonia Faleiro on a man's search for his kidnapped children, and Rivka Galchen on The People v. O. J. Simpson.

The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

Photograph (detail) © Eve Arnold/Magnum Photos
Article
Trump’s People·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"All our friends are saying, load up with plenty of ammunition, because after the stores don’t have no food they’re gonna be hitting houses. They’re going to take over America, put their flag on the Capitol.” “Who?” I asked. “ISIS. Oh yeah.”
Photograph by Mark Abramson for Harper's Magazine (detail)
Article
The Long Rescue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

He made them groom and feed the half-dozen horses used to transport the raw bricks to the furnace. Like the horses, the children were beaten with whips.
Photograph (detail) © Narendra Shrestha/EPA/Newscom
Article
The Old Man·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.

Illustration (detail) by Jen Renninger
Article
New Television·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

With its lens shifting from the courtroom to the newsroom to people’s back yards, the series evokes the way in which, for a brief, delusory moment, the O. J. verdict seemed to deliver justice for all black men.
Still from The People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story © FX Networks

Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:

$62,000

Kentucky is the saddest state.

An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today