Members of Congress may have failed to stem the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs over the last few years, but they've shown extraordinary ingenuity in devising employment opportunities for their nearest and dearest. As The Times has reported over the last year, at least 11 House members and 17 senators have relatives who lobby or consult Congress on issues that members have favored through legislative or other action.
Now add Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) to the list. Maybe the top of the list. As The Times' Ken Silverstein, Chuck Neubauer and Richard T. Cooper reported Friday, Weldon's 29-year-old daughter, Karen, lucratively lobbies on sensitive foreign policy issues in the Balkans and Russia that her father influences through his committee posts. There is probably nothing illegal about the Weldons' actions, but the appearance of conflict, of pay-to-play, is overwhelming.
Karen Weldon's firm, despite her youth and lack of foreign policy experience, has a $240,000 contract with two Serbian brothers linked to accused war criminal Slobodan Milosevic. Her father has pushed the State Department to reverse its denial of visas for the family. She represents a Russian aerospace manufacturer for $20,000 a month plus 10% of any new business generated. Rep. Weldon has suggested that the Navy buy the manufacturer's flying drone. Maybe the Serbs have gotten a bum rap on their Milosevic connection. Maybe that Russian drone is a good buy. But both issues are terminally smeared by the Weldons' ethical lapses.