Facing the toughest re-election race of his 10 terms in Congress, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., on Monday questioned the timing of a FBI raid on the homes of his daughter and her business partner who are being investigated for winning lobbying contracts through the congressman's connections.
Weldon said he hoped voters would give him the benefit of the doubt ahead of the Nov. 7 election, since news of the inquiry broke just three weeks before the election.
"I did nothing wrong and I believe this inquiry will prove that. ... The timing of this situation is deeply concerning," Weldon said in a written statement. He also held a press conference late Monday afternoon.
Asking his supporters to "hang tough," the Pennsylvania Republican said the allegations are old and had already been cleared by the House ethics panel.
"I am confident that investigators will reach the same conclusions as the House Ethics Committee, which looked into these allegations in 2004 at my request, and found that I had engaged in no wrongdoing," Weldon said, adding that he ethics panel chief, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., if the panel referred the issue to the Department of Justice. Hastings told him it had not, Weldon said.
Weldon called the probe politically motivated, and brought on by a bogus complaint issued from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
"It is no coincidence that the vice president of CREW, Philadelphia trial lawyer Daniel Berger, and his law firm are among the single largest contributors to my opponent Joe Sestak's campaign. This is a group that is closely tied to my opponent Joe Sestak and now, just weeks before my re-election word that the inquiry is occurring has mysteriously trickled out. That is dirty, partisan politics at its absolute worst," Weldon said in a statement.
Karen Weldon is being investigated on allegations that she obtained $1 million in lobbying contracts from foreign clients with the help of her father.
"I can confirm that we conducted a number of searches regarding an ongoing investigation," Jerri Williams, an FBI special agent in Philadelphia, told FOX News. "Details regarding those investigation cannot be provided because the accompanying affidavit is sealed."
Agents searched Weldon's home in Center City Philadelphia; the Springfield home of Charles Sexton, her business partner and the congressman's close friend; and the office of their company, Solutions North America, in Media, Williams said.
A senior Justice Department official told the Associated Press that the FBI searched four locations in the Philadelphia area and two in Jacksonville, Fla.
Another source familiar with the investigation confirmed to FOX News that warrants were executed Monday morning. The source acknowledged that the timing of the search seemed suspect, but said agents felt once news of the probe broke over the weekend, they had to speed up their plans.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, agents left Weldon's Philadelphia townhouse with several boxes. In Delaware County, agents left Sexton's house with at least one box and a bag of material.
Rep. Weldon, who speaks Russian and is a noted foreign policy expert as vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has long denied any wrongdoing in the case. He said that while he is willing to fully cooperate with any questions or inquiries from the Justice Department, he has not been contacted by anyone from the department.
"I have not done anything wrong and my daughter hasn't either," Weldon said at a press conference late Monday afternoon. "I would absolutely never use my position to help anyone in an unusual way."Weldon Chief of Staff Russ Caso said Weldon and his staff were "100 percent caught off guard" when they learned of the investigation, first reported late Friday by McClatchy Newspapers.
"There's no substance in that story. It's a flimsy story," Caso said.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out fliers last week to voters in Weldon's district accusing Karen Weldon of getting help from her father on lobbying projects.
Michael Puppio, Weldon's campaign manager, questioned the timing of the mailing and published reports about the investigation. He accused Democrats of "attempting to smear the congressman and his entire family" in the final weeks of the campaign.
Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the DCCC, said it's "bizarre, paranoid and absurd" for the Weldon campaign to imply there's a link in the timing of the mailing and the published reports.
FOX News' Ian McCaleb and The Associated Press contributed to this report.