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Plea deal with lobbyist friend likely imminent… The federal investigation into former Congressman Curt Weldon has been going on for nearly two years now. The original investigation stemmed from an article I co-authored while at the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Weldon’s daughter, Karen, had opened up a lobbying shop and had won three big contracts with clients that her father had helped out as a member of Congress.
Since then, the only person charged in the case is Russell Caso, Weldon’s former chief of staff, on very minor charges. Meanwhile, Weldon is out and about with his own Beltway consulting firm, working with defense contractors and recently winning himself some unwanted press attention.
Cecelia Grimes, a very good friend of Weldon’s who also began a lucrative career as a lobbyist and whom I also wrote about for the Times, is working as a lobbyist and consultant as well. She has a firm called the Center Hill Group, where her partner is Cynthia Young, the daughter-in-law of Florida Congressman Bill Young. The firm’s clients include a number of small defense contractors.
I’ve spoken to multiple sources familiar with the Weldon investigation and have been told that investigators were closely scrutinizing Grimes’s relationship with the former congressman. Sources have also told me that Weldon’s relationship with Grimes went well beyond mere friendship. If that is the case, any role Weldon might have played in assisting her business prospects as a lobbyist would be even more troubling. I have also been told that Grimes traveled to London in January 2004 when Weldon went there to meet with Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libyan president Moammar Gaddafi. (Incidentally, Weldon’s consulting firm is conducting Libyan-related business.) Weldon’s trip was paid for by a firm called SRA International.
Since last Thursday I have sought comment from Weldon’s attorney, William Winning, and from Cecelia Grimes, about the latter’s relationship with Weldon and about whether she was in London with him in 2004. Neither have replied to requests by phone or email. If I do hear back, I will immediately update this story.
Update, 1:00PM: Prosecutors filed a document today alleging that Grimes is guilty of destroying evidence, including her Blackberry, in the case. It seems likely Grimes will cop a plea on such charges.
Update, 3:30PM: A statement was just issued by Grimes’s law firm, Montgomery, McCracken Walker & Rhoads, LLP:
Ms. Cecelia Grimes is extremely remorseful for any mistake she has made in reference to this investigation. Any suggestion that Ms. Grimes engaged in any inappropriate, illegal or improper conduct with regard to her role as a lobbyist is incorrect and unfounded. Ms. Grimes asks that you respect her privacy and that of her family as she closes this unfortunate chapter and moves forward with the rest of her life. Neither Ms. Grimes nor her counsel will have any further comment regarding this matter.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Commentary — November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm
The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.
The new docudrama The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) isn’t really about Orenthal James Simpson. It’s about the trials that ran alongside his — those informal, unboundaried, court-of-public-opinion trials in which evidence was heard for and against the murder victims, the defense and the prosecution, the judge, the jury, and the Los Angeles Police Department, to say nothing of white and black America. History has freed us from suspense about Simpson’s verdict, so that the man himself (played here by Cuba Gooding Jr.) is less the tragic hero he seemed in the mid-Nineties than a curiously minor character. He comes to the center of our attention only once, in Episode 2, at the end of the lengthy Ford Bronco chase scene — which in real life was followed by a surreal cavalcade of police cars and media helicopters, as well as an estimated 95 million live viewers — when Simpson repeatedly, and with apparent sincerity, apologizes for taking up so much of so many people’s time. It is an uncannily ordinary moment of social decorum, a sort of could-you-please-pass-the-salt gesture on a sinking Titanic, in which Simpson briefly becomes more than just an archetype.
Amount an auditor estimated last year that Oregon could save each year by feeding prisoners less food:
Kentucky is the saddest state.
An Italian economist was questioned on suspicion of terrorism after a fellow passenger on an American Airlines flight witnessed him writing differential equations on a pad of paper.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”