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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:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
For the past three years my dosimeter had sat silently on a narrow shelf just inside the door of a house in Tokyo, upticking its final digit every twenty-four hours by one or two, the increase never failing — for radiation is the ruthless companion of time. Wherever we are, radiation finds and damages us, at best imperceptibly. During those three years, my American neighbors had lost sight of the accident at Fukushima. In March 2011, a tsunami had killed hundreds, or thousands; yes, they remembered that. Several also recollected the earthquake that caused it, but as for the hydrogen explosion and containment breach at Nuclear Plant No. 1, that must have been fixed by now — for its effluents no longer shone forth from our national news. Meanwhile, my dosimeter increased its figure, one or two digits per day, more or less as it would have in San Francisco — well, a trifle more, actually. And in Tokyo, as in San Francisco, people went about their business, except on Friday nights, when the stretch between the Kasumigaseki and Kokkai-Gijido-mae subway stations — half a dozen blocks of sidewalk, which commenced at an antinuclear tent that had already been on this spot for more than 900 days and ended at the prime minister’s lair — became a dim and feeble carnival of pamphleteers and Fukushima refugees peddling handicrafts.
One Friday evening, the refugees’ half of the sidewalk was demarcated by police barriers, and a line of officers slouched at ease in the street, some with yellow bullhorns hanging from their necks. At the very end of the street, where the National Diet glowed white and strange behind other buildings, a policeman set up a microphone, then deployed a small video camera in the direction of the muscular young people in drums against fascists jackets who now, at six-thirty sharp, began chanting: “We don’t need nuclear energy! Stop nuclear power plants! Stop them, stop them, stop them! No restart! No restart!” The police assumed a stiffer stance; the drumming and chanting were almost uncomfortably loud. Commuters hurried past along the open space between the police and the protesters, staring straight ahead, covering their ears. Finally, a fellow in a shabby sweater appeared, and murmured along with the chants as he rounded the corner. He was the only one who seemed to sympathize; few others reacted at all.
Number of U.S. congressional districts in which trade with China has produced more jobs than it has cost:
Young bilingual children who learned one language first are likelier than monolingual children and bilingual children who learned languages simultaneously to say that a dog adopted by owls will hoot.
An Oklahoma legislative committee voted to defund Advanced Placement U.S. History courses, accusing the curriculum of portraying the United States as “a nation of oppressors and exploiters.”
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“He could be one of a million beach-bound, black-socked Florida retirees, not the man who, by some odd happenstance of life, possesses the brain of Albert Einstein — literally cut it out of the dead scientist's head.”