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IL-11: Nailed by the Chicago Tribune, Jerry Weller Goes Into Hiding

by: Trent Thompson

Fri Sep 07, 2007 at 3:53 PM EDT


In a front-page exposé, the Chicago Tribune today delved into the questionable Latin American investments of Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL): 

In 2002 Weller made his first official congressional trip to Nicaragua. Before the year was over, he had bought his first lot and eventually began looking for land he could subdivide into parcels that would attract buyers looking for prime ocean-view property at a relatively low price. It is an unusual investment for a member of Congress, and Weller's foreign land holdings seem far more extensive than any other House member's.

His investment got a boost from the narrowly passed Central America Free Trade Agreement, which Weller pitched in 2005 as a tool to enable businesses in his hard-pressed district to sell tractors and food to Latin America. CAFTA also includes additional legal protection for American investors, including those who have purchased lots from Weller.

What he didn't say was that, while he publicly pushed CAFTA, Weller privately was pursuing his land development, some 2,000 miles away. The House approved the trade pact in July 2005 by only two votes, 217-215.

Besides not mentioning his Nicaraguan investments during the CAFTA debate on the House floor, Weller did not give anywhere close to a complete accounting of them in his required 2005 financial disclosure statement. House ethics rules require representatives to disclose all property they own except for their personal residences.

Although Weller defeated his opponent last year by a healthy 10 points, the district has a PVI of only R+1.1. And while Kerry lost the district by 7 points, Gore came within 2. Weller's ethical troubles should definitely put this seat in play. 

UPDATE (James): And where is Weller to defend himself from the bullies at the Tribune?  The answer: in hiding.

When asked about the discrepancies, Weller's office first insisted that questions be given to the congressman in writing. After a week passed with no response to the written questions, The Tribune requested to talk to Weller in person. On Thursday afternoon, Weller's spokesman said he would not answer questions and had no comment.

The congressman missed all recorded House votes in Washington this week. His spokesman said he was out of the city, caring for his 1-year-old daughter.

Currently, the only prospective candidate against Weller is Jerry Weber, the president of Kankakee Community College.  However, I wouldn't be surprised if other local Democrats might be taking a closer look at this race given these recent developments.

(h/t to the Stakeholder and Prarie State Blue)

Trent Thompson :: IL-11: Nailed by the Chicago Tribune, Jerry Weller Goes Into Hiding
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Awful week for Republicans
This really concludes an awful week for the GOP, a week in which retirement and ethical trouble has come in fast and furious: Davis, Stevens, Weller, Hagel.


More at Campaign Diaries.

He is the son-in-law
of Efrain Rios Montt, the evil former Dictator of Guatemala who engaged in massacres, systemic rape, and torture against the indigenous population of Guatemala.  Montt was backed by Ronald Reagan in his misguided war against the Contras.  Montt was good friends with Jerry Falwell and remains friends with Pat Robertson.  He is now aligned with the right wing Evangelical Church of the Word after turning away from his Roman Catholic upbringing.

Jerry Weller married Zury Rios Montt the daughter of former Dictator Efrain Rios Montt.

"My name's Dr. Multimillionaire and I kicked your ass." -- Rep. Steve Kagen D-WI to Karl Rove


At least
She got a green card out of the deal.

[ Parent ]
11th District Democrats
I have to say, this story comes as no surprise to me. I think all of us who've followed Weller know that he is out of touch and corrupt, and this article just hammers it home. The man has to go.
I recently started a group called the 11th District Democrats to build a long-term party infrastructure in the area. We turned out 56 people for our first fundraiser last month, and have made a lot of progress quickly.
The reason I started this group is because I knew to beat Weller, we'd need better organization. I saw that first-hand when I worked on John Pavich's campaign. A lack of organization and money (Weller outspent Pavich 4:1) held down our efforts, though we held Weller to 55% for the first time in 10 years.
I also knew there'd come a day when this district- a pure swing district- would blow up and become a huge race. This article may make that this year, and I wanted us to be ready for it.
I want to say that officially our group holds no primary preference, we will support and aid whoever is the Democratic nominee. I have been in contact with Jerry Weber- the only candidate on our side so far- and we have a friendly relationship, but if a Democratic primary does occur, we will stand on the sidelines and let the voters decide. The most important thing is we get the BEST candidate on our side to take down Weller next fall, because his rubber-stamp, unethical, do-nothing act wore thin LONG AGO.

-Nikhil Bhatia


Is Weller the 2008 version of Richard Pombo-CA.


[ Parent ]

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