Jerry Weller

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Jerry Weller
Jerry Weller portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2009
Preceded by George Sangmeister
Succeeded by Debbie Halvorson
Personal details
Born (1957-07-07) July 7, 1957 (age 57)
Streator, Illinois
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Zury Ríos Montt
Residence Morris, Illinois
Alma mater University of Illinois
Occupation political assistant
Religion Evangelical (Reformed)

Gerald C. "Jerry" Weller (born July 7, 1957, Streator, Illinois) is an American politician who was a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Illinois's 11th congressional district.

Early life, education, and early political career[edit]

Weller was born in Streator, Illinois, to LaVern and Marilyn Weller,[1] and raised on his family's hog farm in Dwight, Illinois. Weller is a 1979 graduate of the University of Illinois where he received his degree in agriculture. Weller has been married twice.

Weller was a staff member for U.S. Congressman Tom Corcoran from 1980 to 1981, assistant to the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, and an aide to Secretary of Agriculture John R. Block from 1981 to 1985.

In 1988, Weller was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives where he served until 1994.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Weller was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 following the retirement of Democrat George Sangmeister. Weller defeated New Lenox attorney Robert T. Herbolsheimer in the Republican primary, and Democrat Frank Giglio in the general election.

In 1995, Weller received an Environmental Protector Award from the Chicago Audubon Society for his political service.[2] After a release of tritium from Exelon's Braidwood and Dresden Nuclear Power Plant Weller sent a letter to Exelon Corp expressing his concern and recommended that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigate the power plants in question.[3]

In 2002, a Federal Election Commission audit found a fund used by Weller for his re-election in 2000 received almost $110,000 that appeared to have violated federal campaign rules on the size and source of donations. Weller's fund returned all of the questioned contributions but did not admit deliberately violating any laws.[4][5]

On October 10, 2002, Weller voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[6]

Weller served as Deputy Minority Whip.[7] Weller did not seek reelection after his seventh term.[8]

On September 21, 2007, Weller announced that he would not seek another term, citing the need to spend more time with his family.[9]

Weller supported free trade when serving in Congress and traveled throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to build better relationships with public sector and business leaders. He was the number one supporter for the Panama trade agreement with the United States.[10]

Weller made efforts to eliminate the marriage penalty tax. He supported the use of tax incentives to help redevelop brownfield formal industrial land, developing a proposal with Democrats, such as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, to do so.[4]

Weller championed the creation of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and other redevelopment efforts at the former Joliet arsenal.[4] Redevelopment of the site included the Deer Run Industrial Park, which contains the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, a new intermodal freight transport center.[11]

Weller supported plans for the Illiana Expressway.[12]

Weller voted again to raise the minimum wage in the 110th Congress.[13]

Weller sponsored a bill to expand concurrent receipt for wounded military veterans, but it did not pass.[14]

Weller promised prior to his marriage to Guatemalan Congresswoman Zury Ríos Montt, that he would not vote on any legislation involving solely the U.S. and Guatemala. His advocacy and vote for CAFTA caused controversy however, despite it being a multi-nation agreement.[15] Weller has long supported free-trade agreements. As a FRG party leader, his wife is also a supporter of CAFTA.

Weller accepted money from two convicted associates of former congressman Duke Cunningham. Weller's spokesman said that the donations probably originated from his support of the research and development tax credit[16] and the money was donated to a charity in Oregon.[17] Weller is currently fighting a subpoena to testify in Cunningham's trial.[18]

Weller was the only member of the House of Representatives to abstain in the vote for the proposed bailout of U.S. financial system (2008).[19]


  • Committee on Ways & Means
    • Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support (Ranking Member)
    • Subcommittee on Trade

Personal life[edit]

In July 2004, Weller announced that he was engaged to three-term Guatemalan Congresswoman Zury Ríos Montt, daughter of former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt.[20] On November 20, 2004, the two married at her father's home in Antigua Guatemala, his second marriage and her fourth. (Zury Ríos has also used the combined parental surname Ríos Sosa, but in Guatemala she is nowadays best known by her father's name, Ríos Montt; her personal website uses the hybrid married form "Ríos-Montt de Weller".[21])

In August 2006, a daughter, Marizú Catherine, was born in a hospital in Guatemala City.[22][23]

Properties in Nicaragua[edit]

On October 25, 2006, the Chicago Reader reported that Weller had disclosed three parcels of land he owned in Nicaragua on his financial disclosure forms: one purchased in 2002, one purchased in April 2004, and one purchased in December 2005. The newspaper also reported that it had obtained notarized bills of sale for three more lots owned by Weller that had never been listed on his forms: a lot sold in February 2005, a lot purchased in March 2005, and lot purchased in April 2005. The failure to properly disclosure property ownership is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act and the False Statements Accountability Act of 1996.

Weller's lawyer said that he couldn’t comment because of the attorney-client privilege.[24] Weller's campaign manager said Weller "does not own three more parcels in Nicaragua. He does not own six parcels in Nicaragua. He has filed his disclosure for everything that he owns."[25]

On September 7, 2007, the Chicago Tribune disclosed the results of their own investigation into his land deals, including discrepancies on declared prices and numbers of transactions, centered in the Playa Coco resort area. For example, Weller listed only one Nicaraguan property purchase on his 2005 disclosure form, but property records in Nicaragua showed that he bought or sold at least eight pieces of land.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Project Vote Smart. Weller extended biography. Accessed October 23, 2006.
  2. ^ Chicago Audubon Society. Previous CAS Award Recipients (1977–2003). Accessed October 23, 2006.
  3. ^ Weller press release.[dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Associated Press. Jerry Weller Biography. Accessed October 23, 2006.[dead link]
  5. ^ Weller's campaign fund questioned. The Pantagraph. Bloomington-Normal, Illinois. September 18, 2002.
  6. ^
  7. ^[dead link]
  8. ^ Weller won't seek eighth term NWI Times September 21, 2007. Retrieved September 21, 2007
  9. ^ Rep. Weller will not seek another term in Congress The State Journal-Register September 22, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2007[dead link]
  10. ^
  11. ^ Joliet Arsenal Development Authority
  12. ^ Ziemba, Stanley (2006-12-14). "Highway Plan Gets a Boost". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  13. ^ Simon, Richard (2007-01-11). "Minimum pay bill advances". Chicago Tribune Online. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  14. ^ Maze, Rick (2007-01-13). "Bill would expand concurrent receipt". Marine Corps Times Online. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  15. ^ "Weller marriage still raising ethics questions: Congressman has acted on trade issues, legislation impacting Guatemala", Morris Daily Herald, January 30, 2006[dead link]
  16. ^ Josephine Hearn, "Co-conspirators’ largesse extended to many", The Hill, November 30, 2005[dead link]
  17. ^ Ben Roberts. Blunt will keep tainted donations as others vow to give them away. St Louis Post Dispatch. December 9, 2005
  18. ^ Weller, Hastert challenge Cunningham subpoenas by Jim Tankersley Chicago Tribune September 19, 2007
  19. ^ "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 674". United States House of Representatives. September 29, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
  20. ^ Frank Smyth, "Illinois Republican Jerry Weller is one of the most powerful men in Congress when it comes to Latin America. His wife is the most powerful woman in Guatemala’s controversial FRG party.", Chicago Reader, August 25, 2006
  21. ^
  22. ^ "El orgulloso abuelo de Marizú Catherine Weller", el Periodico, August 18, 2006
  23. ^
  24. ^ Frank Smyth, "Is Jerry Weller's beach an ethics breach?", Chicago Reader, October 25, 2006
  25. ^ Jo Ann Hustis, "Pavich accuses, Weller camp denies three Nicaraguan land parcels: Claims based on newspaper report Congressman owns undisclosed property", Morris Daily Herald, November 1, 2006
  26. ^ Andrew Zajac, Oscar Avila and Jim Tankersley, "Inside Rep. Weller's Nicaragua land deal", Chicago Tribune, September 7, 2007

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
George E. Sangmeister
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th congressional district

January 3, 1995 - January 3, 2009
Succeeded by
Debbie Halvorson