Editors note: This the third in a four-part series detailing how and why a collaboration of Democratic activists conspired to unseat Pennsylvania Rep. Curt Weldon in the November 2006 elections. Read part 1 and part 2.
Former Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.
Although Republican Rep. Curt Weldon’s suburban Philadelphia district had given John Kerry a slight majority of its votes in 2004, Weldon secured 59 percent of the votes against his Democratic opponent. On the surface, he was not a likely Democratic target for 2006.
And yet the Clintons and their allies would invest more money and energy in Weldon’s removal than that of any other congressman. And for one good reason: The intrepid Weldon posed a genuine risk to Bill’s legacy and Hillary’s future. By means fair or foul, he had to go.
Initiating the removal was one Melanie Sloan, a former assistant United States attorney and now the executive director of the George Soros-funded watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
It was Sloan who filed the complaint against Weldon after his name surfaced in a 2004 Los Angeles Times articles listing the various members of Congress whose children were lobbyists. Although Weldon was one of 28 such congressmen listed and had been cleared by a congressional ethics committee, Sloan and her collaborators zeroed in on him alone.
Unbeknownst to Weldon, the FBI had opened an investigation into his and his daughter’s business interests some time in the spring of 2006, roughly 18 months after Sloan filed her complaint and just about the time the campaign of Weldon’s opponent, Joe Sestak, was kicking into high gear.
Although Sloan would claim to be mystified by the FBI’s delay in investigating Weldon, future events would suggest a coordinated effort within the Department of Justice and possibly the FBI.
In the summer or early fall of 2006, the FBI formally referred the Weldon matter to the Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section for follow-up. Public Integrity is the home of, among others, Howard Sklamberg, one of the Democratic sympathizers within the DOJ responsible for the preposterously light sentence meted out to Weldon target Sandy Berger.
If Weldon were unaware of the judicial operation against him, he could not miss the political one. On Sunday, Sept. 24, 2006, during former President Bill Clinton’s legendary performance on Fox News with Chris Wallace, the nation saw just how big were the guns aimed at Weldon. Other than George Bush, Clinton mentioned only one other Republican by name.
“A three-star admiral,” he announced out of nowhere, “who was on my National Security Council staff, who also fought terror, by the way, is running for the seat of Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania.”
Without meaning to, Clinton also suggested why the war on Weldon was so important. For postmodernists like Clinton, those in power have the ability to impose their “narrative” on those without power and call it truth.
To preserve his version of events leading up 9/11, he had dispatched Sandy Berger to the National Archives, at the risk of Berger’s career and reputation, to edit the official record.
Controlling the media historically had been much easier. Not surprisingly, Clinton felt betrayed when earlier that September ABC aired an honest, if unflattering, account of events that he dismissed as “their little pathway to 9/11.”
Clinton had first tried to shut the ABC program down. That failing, he denounced the program to Chris Wallace’s Fox audience as a fiction by a “right-wing conservative” and reiterated his own highly colored narrative.
When Wallace raised legitimate questions about that narrative, Clinton lashed out at Wallace on the air, condemning his entirely appropriate discourse as a “conservative hit job.”
Curt Weldon represented an even greater threat to the Clinton-controlled narrative than Chris Wallace or ABC’s “Pathway to 9/11.” Indeed, in his relentless pursuit of the truth about 9/11, Weldon had the potential to rewrite the narrative altogether.
Ten days after the Fox interview, on Oct. 4, Clinton descended on Weldon’s Pennsylvania district. “I will not make a single stop in this campaign season that means more to me than this one – not one,” he told a crowd of nearly 900 at a Sestak rally. On this occasion at least, Clinton was telling the truth.
At the time, Weldon held a 7-point lead in the polls over the novice Sestak. That was not to stand. During the week after Clinton’s visit, events took a less public but more sinister turn.
Who orchestrated these events I cannot say for sure. If I were investigating, I would certainly want to question former Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie Sloan and the assistant U.S. attorneys within the DOJ who shared her Democratic sympathies, especially Howard Sklamberg, Bruce Swartz and Glenn Fine.
What we do know is this. On Oct. 13, Greg Gordon of the liberal McClatchy Newspapers Washington Bureau broke a powerful and damning story, namely that the Justice Department was investigating whether Weldon had traded his influence for “lucrative” lobbying contracts for his daughter.
Gordon referred to “two sources,” both anonymous. One he described as “a federal law enforcement official.” The second he did not describe at all. This cagy lack of further detail suggests that the second source may not have been a federal official, at least not at the time.
Although Gordon conceded that “it is possible at this stage of the investigation that nothing will come of it,” this uncertainty did not stop the McClatchy Newspapers from blasting the anonymous leak nationwide.
Still, Gordon had not come looking for this story. Someone had to alert him to it and introduce him to two sources willing to talk.
In a thoughtful article on the World Socialist website – many on the hard left appreciated Weldon’s work – Patrick Martin recognized the plot to oust Weldon for what it was. Although he misread the motives of the plotters, he did understand FBI decorum.
“It is a longstanding practice of the FBI to refrain from engaging in any dramatic action related to political corruption in the weeks immediately preceding an election,” notes Martin correctly, “out of concern that this would be regarded as an effort to interfere with the electoral process.”
There could have been no other motivation for this calculated leak than interference in the electoral process. Ironically, at the time, Sklamberg was responsible for overseeing election fraud and voting rights abuses in D.C. for the 2006 election.
For Weldon, things got ugly quickly. On Monday morning, Oct. 16, the FBI raided the homes of Weldon’s daughter and a friend, allegedly for fear that documents would be destroyed if they did not do so. The leak prompted this very public raid.
By noon of that same day, a group of nearly 20 Democratic activists were protesting outside Weldon’s district office in Upper Darby, carrying matching signs that read, “Caught Red-Handed.” This, too, had to be coordinated.
At the time, I attempted to contact both Gordon of the McClatchy Newspapers and the local Pennsylvania newspaper, The Delco Times. I left messages telling them there was more to this plot than met the media’s blinkered eye.
I got no response from either. The media had their story and were running with it. On Nov. 7, Sestak won with 56 percent of the vote. Americans, we were told, had had enough of that Republican “culture of corruption.”
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