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Postcards from Nicaragua - xoxo, Rep. Jerry Weller

BeachThe Chicago Tribune reports:

The rolling surf of the Pacific Ocean crashes onto white sand beaches below a lush hillside in southwest Nicaragua, a picture of tropical paradise by anyone's definition.

Who wouldn't want to live here?

Well, Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.) does live here. He also had the foresight when buying the property to pass legislation to make his property rights unusually strong and his life much easier.

His investment got a boost from the narrowly passed Central America Free Trade Agreement, which Weller pitched in 2005 as a tool to enable businesses in his hard-pressed district to sell tractors and food to Latin America. CAFTA also includes additional legal protection for American investors, including those who have purchased lots from Weller.

What he didn't say was that, while he publicly pushed CAFTA, Weller privately was pursuing his land development, some 2,000 miles away. The House approved the trade pact in July 2005 by only two votes, 217-215.

Besides not mentioning his Nicaraguan investments during the CAFTA debate on the House floor, Weller did not give anywhere close to a complete accounting of them in his required 2005 financial disclosure statement. House ethics rules require representatives to disclose all property they own except for their personal residences...

He also was an outspoken advocate for CAFTA, which among other things improves conditions for investors in Nicaragua...

This is just another example of a few legislators' instincts to make laws that suit their personal interest over the public interest.

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