|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th district
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2009
|Preceded by||George Sangmeister|
|Succeeded by||Debbie Halvorson|
July 7, 1957 |
|Spouse(s)||Zury Ríos Montt|
|Alma mater||University of Illinois|
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. As of 2015, Weller was the managing principal of New World Group Public Affairs, a lobbying group with offices in Washington, DC, Florida and Guatemala. He was also a Global Development Officer for an IPTV company called VIPTV.
Early life, education, and early political career
Weller was born in Streator, Illinois, to LaVern and Marilyn Weller, 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
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Weller championed the creation of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and other redevelopment efforts at the former Joliet arsenal. Redevelopment of the site included the Deer Run Industrial Park, which contains the CenterPoint Intermodal Center, a new intermodal freight transport center.
Weller voted again to raise the minimum wage in the 110th Congress.
Weller sponsored a bill to expand concurrent receipt for wounded military veterans, but it did not pass.
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. Weller has long supported free-trade agreements. As a FRG party leader, his wife was 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 and the money was donated to a charity in Oregon. Weller and 11 other congressmen were subpoenaed to testify in the trial of Brent R. Wilkes, the contractor accused of bribing Cunningham. The subpoenas were withdrawn by defense attorneys on October 3, 2007 when it became apparent the trial judge would quash them anyway. Weller and the other 11 did not testify in the trial.
Weller was on the following committees at various times:
- Committee on Ways & Means (-2008)
- Committee On International Relations (-2006)
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. 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 perhaps best known by her father's name, Ríos Montt; her personal website uses the hybrid married form "Ríos-Montt de Weller".)
Properties in Nicaragua
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 was alleged to be 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. 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."
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. No inquiry was ever launched by the Democrat controlled House, but Weller announced that he would not seek reelection on September 21, 2007.
- "Jerry Weller". jerryweller.info. Retrieved May 8, 2015.
- Project Vote Smart. Weller extended biography. Accessed October 23, 2006.
- "Previous CAS Award Recipients (1977–2003)". Chicago Audubon Society. Archived from the original on February 26, 2005. Retrieved October 23, 2006.
- "Weller Letter to Exelon Corp. on Braidwood, Dresden Nuclear Leaks". weller.house.gov. February 16, 2006. Archived from the original on March 1, 2006.
- "Jerry Weller Biography". weller.house.gov. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009.
- "Weller's campaign fund questioned". The Pantagraph (Bloomington-Normal, Illinois). September 18, 2002.
- "H.J.Res. 114 (107th): Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002". govtrack.us. October 10, 2002.
- http://republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=10[not in citation given][dead link]
- Colindres, Adrianna (September 22, 2007). "Rep. Weller will not seek another term in Congress". The State Journal-Register. Archived from the original on December 24, 2007. Retrieved September 24, 2007.
- Schwab, Susan. "Remarks at the signing of the US-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement". Archived from the original on August 10, 2007.
- "Joliet Arsenal Development Authority". Archived from the original on May 18, 2007.
- Ziemba, Stanley (December 14, 2006). "Highway Plan Gets a Boost". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
- Simon, Richard (2007-01-11). "Minimum pay bill advances". Chicago Tribune Online. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
- Maze, Rick (2007-01-13). "Bill would expand concurrent receipt". Marine Corps Times Online. Retrieved 2007-01-26.
- "Weller marriage still raising ethics questions: Congressman has acted on trade issues, legislation impacting Guatemala". Morris Daily Herald. January 30, 2006.[dead link]
- Hearn, Josephine (November 30, 2005). "Co-conspirators’ largesse extended to many". The Hill. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006.
- Ben Roberts. Blunt will keep tainted donations as others vow to give them away. St Louis Post Dispatch. December 9, 2005
- Weller, Hastert challenge Cunningham subpoenas by Jim Tankersley Chicago Tribune September 19, 2007
- Hoffman, Allison (October 3, 2007). "12 House members won't be subpoenaed". Modesto Bee. Associated Press.
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 674". United States House of Representatives. September 29, 2008. Retrieved September 30, 2008.
- "Committees". weller.house.gov. Archived from the original on January 3, 2009.
- "Subcommittee on Trade Membership". waysandmeans.house.gov. Archived from the original on January 1, 2009.
- "Committees". weller.house.gov. Archived from the original on December 27, 2006.
- Smyth, Frank (August 25, 2006). "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. Archived from the original on August 30, 2006.
- "El orgulloso abuelo de Marizú Catherine Weller", el Periodico, August 18, 2006
- "Weller Family Welcomes New Member". weller.house.gov. August 17, 2006. Archived from the original on October 31, 2009.
- Frank Smyth, "Is Jerry Weller's beach an ethics breach?", Chicago Reader, October 25, 2006
- 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
- Andrew Zajac, Oscar Avila and Jim Tankersley, "Inside Rep. Weller's Nicaragua land deal", Chicago Tribune, September 7, 2007
- Felker, Edward (June 17, 2008). "Jerry Weller reports assets, income". The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois).
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Project Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Profile at SourceWatch
|United States House of Representatives|
George E. Sangmeister
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 11th congressional district
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2009