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FBI Raids Home Of Congressman's Daughter

The FBI raided the homes of Rep. Curt Weldon's daughter and a close friend Monday as it investigates whether the congressman improperly helped the pair win lobbying and consulting contracts.

Agents searched four locations in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, Fla., said Debbie Weierman, an FBI spokeswoman in Washington. The congressman's home and his offices were not among the locations searched, she said.

Earlier Monday, Weldon called the investigation politically motivated and called the timing suspect. The Republican, who is locked in a tight re-election bid and has clashed with the Bush administration, denied wrongdoing and said he gave his daughter no special help.

"I've not done anything wrong. My own gut feeling is it was something created by the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)," Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., said Monday after meeting with transportation officials to discuss Philadelphia International Airport flight patterns.

Federal investigators are looking into whether Weldon used his influence to help Karen Weldon secure lobbying contracts worth $1 million from foreign clients, two people familiar with the inquiry told The Associated Press on Saturday.

"What I find ironic, if there is an investigation, is that no one would tell me until three weeks before the election," Weldon said. "This incident was 2 1/2 years ago."

Weldon, a 10-term Republican from the Philadelphia suburbs and vice chairman of the House Armed Services committee, is in a tight race for re-election on Nov. 7 against Democrat Joe Sestak. Last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee mailed fliers to voters in Weldon's district accusing Karen Weldon of getting help from her father on lobbying projects.

Weldon said his daughter received no special consideration because of him.

"I've never helped my daughter get anything. My kids are qualified on their own," Weldon said.

The congressman also raised questions about the need for a Justice Department investigation, noting that the House Ethics Committee looked into his daughter's contracts soon after The Los Angeles Times reported on them in February 2004. He said he has cooperated fully, turning over 150 pages in documents and answering the committee's questions.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports federal agents raided Karen Weldon's home and that of his longtime friend Charlie Sexton Monday morning.

The agents left Weldon's three-story brick home on Queen Street in Philadelphia with armfuls of boxes.

A government car pulled into the alley to the back door of the house and loaded boxes into it. Three agents standing in an alley declined to identify themselves.

"I can confirm that we conducted a number of searches regarding an ongoing investigation," said FBI agent Jerri Williams, a spokeswoman in Philadelphia. "Details regarding those investigations cannot be provided because the accompanying affidavit is sealed."

In Delaware County, FBI agents had blocked off Kelli Lane leading to Charles P. Sexton Jr.'s Springfield house, and were removing at least one box and a bag of material from his home late this morning. Sexton, a long time ally of Weldon and a power in Delaware County GOP politics for more than three decades, is a business associate of Weldon's daughter.

Rep. Weldon, regarded by some as a foreign policy expert, has clashed at times with the Bush administration. In the last year, he has repeatedly said a secret military unit called "Able Danger" used data-mining to link four Sept. 11 hijackers to al Qaeda more than a ear before the attacks. A Pentagon report rejected the idea.