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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
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Number of people stopped and frisked by the NYPD in 2011 for “furtive movements”:
The faces of Lego people were growing angrier.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
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Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature