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

March 2016

Save Our Public Universities

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Rogue Agency

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Mad Magazines

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Killer Bunny in the Sky

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Bird in a Cage

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Hidden Rivers of Brooklyn

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Save Our Public Universities·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Whether and how we educate people is still a direct reflection of the degree of freedom we expect them to have, or want them to have.”
Photograph (crop) by Thomas Allen
Article
New Movies·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Force Awakens criticizes American imperialism while also celebrating the revolutionary spirit that founded this country. When the movie needs to bridge the two points of view, it shifts to aerial combat, a default setting that mirrors the war on terror all too well.”
Still © Lucasfilm
Article
Isn’t It Romantic?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“He had paid for much of her schooling, something he cannot help but mention, since the aftermath of any failed relationship brings an ungenerous and impossible impulse to claw back one’s misspent resources.”
Illustration by Shonagh Rae
Article
The Trouble with Iowa·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“It seems to defy reason that this anachronistic farm state — a demographic outlier, with no major cities and just 3 million people, nine out of ten of them white — should play such an outsized role in American politics.”
Photograph (detail) © Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Article
Rule, Britannica·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is the strange magic of an arrangement of all the world’s knowledge in alphabetical order: any search for anything passes through things that have nothing in common with it but an initial letter.”
Artwork by Brian Dettmer. Courtesy the artist and P.P.O.W., New York City.

Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:

60,000

The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.

In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”

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

HARPER’S FINEST

Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War

By

Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.

Subscribe Today