Saturday, September 02, 2006

Chicago Trib Reports on Phone Sex Donations

On September 2, the Chicago Tribune reported that Jerry Weller faced questions about his acceptance of campaign donations from Jeffrey and Dawn Prosser, after writing a letter on Prosser's behalf to the government of Belize.

Among the political contributions brimming from his campaign treasury, Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) accepted a campaign donation from a telecommunications executive he has tried to help in an international business dispute.

Weller hand-delivered a letter last year to government officials in Belize, suggesting that their decision to seize business assets of Jeffrey Prosser might hurt future investment in their economy. Weller received contributions totaling about $4,000 from Prosser and his wife last year.

The Trib also reported that Weller's Democratic challenger, John Pavich, had raised the issue of Prosser's ties to the phone sex industry.

Prosser was a former owner of GT&T, the telephone company of the country of Guyana. Under Prosser's stewardship, 70% of GT&T's profits were linked to phone sex traffic and Guyana was named one of the worst "dial-a-porn" offenders in the world by the FCC.

According to the Tribune,

In the latest charge, campaign manager Matt Pavich, the candidate's brother, called it hypocritical for Weller to "hold himself out as a defender of marriage and family values while accepting money from a man who ran a phone-sex service." He also suggested Weller did a favor for Prosser. Weller's campaign said he was not aware of that phone-sex component of Prosser's business.

Steve Shearer, Weller's campaign manager, responded to the charges in Chicago's Herald News:

"Congressman Weller has thousands of contributors. With that kind of support, it's impossible to do financial background checks on all contributors," Shearer said. "He had no idea one of them was involved with a phone-sex operation."

Prosser filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month, following a shareholder suit charging that conduct of his International Communication Company, ICC, "was outrageous, demonstrated fraudulent and evil motive and was in such conscious disregard of the rights of [the shareholders] to be deemed willful and wanton."

On May 25, 2005, Weller misrepresented his interest in Prosser's dispute with Belize, claiming during a congressional committee hearing that Prosser or his company was a constituent.

And I have constituents here that come to me, and I have always been a strong advocate that we work with our friends in the hemisphere, and that the rule of law means that when there is an investor dispute, that will be resolved in a timely, fair, and transparent manner.

And I was recently in Belize, and had the opportunity to talk with Prime Minister Musa about a case which I am very concerned about. You know, the United States Embassy that we are building there right now, which I think is about a $50 million project, the largest construction project in the history of Belize. And we had a United States company that invested and made a commitment to invest $60 million in the Belize telecommunications company, which was privatized to bring the private sector in to upgrade that.


Weller then read a letter from Prosser's ICC company into the congressional record. Neither Prosser, his wife, nor ICC are constituents of Weller's congressional district.

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