Former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon says he was invited to Libya by Moammar Gadhafi's chief of staff to meet with Gadhafi. The goal was to persuade Gadhafi to step down. But Weldon went home without that meeting. What kind of invitation is that? It's like being invited to a party and forced to sit at the kids table.
Then Weldon, who lost his bid for an 11th term in 2006 amid an FBI influence-peddling probe, says the trip was "paid for by the team of Steve Payne and Brian Ettinger of Houston," who the NYT describe as "two Houston businessmen whose firm brokers oil and gas deals in unstable countries." Payne and Ettinger joined Weldon on the trip. (Larry Mendte was there, too, just to make the whole situation completely surreal).
The fact that a couple of lobbyists who work deals in unstable countries funded this trip and tagged along is not a surprise, if you know anything about Weldon. He was the consummate multi-tasker during his 20 years in Congress. In addition to representing Delaware County's 7th District, Weldon's friends and family benefited from all sorts of contracts and jobs. Total coincidence, of course.
I don't know anything about Steve Payne, but I found the below video interesting. It shows Payne apparently offering access to the Bush administration in exchange for ... oh, let's say a couple hundred thousand bucks. He was the subject of a 2008 investigation by The Times of London.