Justice Charges Weldon Associate

Posted July 15, 2008 at 3:39pm

Correction Appended

The Justice Department on Tuesday charged a lobbyist connected to former Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) with destruction of evidence, and acknowledged that the FBI was investigating whether Weldon got earmarks for the lobbyist’s clients in exchange for payments to the lobbying firm.

According to court documents filed Tuesday, the FBI interviewed Cecelia Grimes in October 2006 about her lobbying firm’s contacts with Weldon. The documents do not name the firm, but describe Grimes as “one of two partners” in the firm. Grimes has had several firms, including Grimes and Young, a partnership with Cynthia Young, the daughter-in-law of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee.

The charging document alleges that after meeting with FBI agents, Grimes threw away several documents related to the FBI investigation, placing them in garbage bags and taking them to the curb. The government then says she tossed her BlackBerry in the dumpster at a nearby fast-food restaurant. The trash bags were “surreptitiously retrieved” by the FBI. Among the documents that the FBI says it recovered from the trash were invitations to Weldon fundraisers, check stubs from Grimes’ clients and RSVP cards for a dinner honoring Weldon.

In 2006, the FBI raided the home of Weldon’s daughter as part of an investigation into whether he had helped her obtain lobbying contracts for foreign businesses.

In December, Weldon’s former chief of staff Russell Caso pleaded guilty to failing to report income that his wife earned working for a nonprofit linked to Weldon.

Correction: July 15, 2008

The article incorrectly stated that Young threw away several documents related to the FBI investigation, according to court documents. It was Grimes who threw away the documents.