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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
Number of free condoms handed out by the Brazilian government in advance of Carnival this year:
The best way to measure happiness is simply to ask people how happy they are.
Following three weeks of clashes between protesters and government forces that killed at least 17 people, Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro announced a two-day extension of Carnival. “Happiness will conquer the embittered,” he said during an appearance at a recreation center.
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”