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SPRINGFIELD (Tribune News Service) — When FBI agents raided former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate on Aug. 8, more than 1,000 miles away Charlie Sexton recalled them doing the same to his residence 16 years earlier.

"I had déjà vu," the former chair of the Springfield Republican Party said at his home. "It was unbelievable."

In October 2006, FBI agents raided the homes of Sexton and former U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon's daughter Karen as part of an investigation that federal sources said were looking into whether the former representative used his influence to secure contracts for them.

"They wanted him out," Sexton said of the government and Weldon. "He knew too much and he was going to expose it. He always believed in transparency. The American public's got a right to know."

He asked the same of the raid on Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

"I say right now, the American public has a right to know," Sexton said. "Why was there a raid on the president's house? Where's the beef?"

Sexton's spacious home sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in a bucolic section of Springfield, where deer come up to trees near the house.

Hanging on his walls are newspaper clippings bearing his name and numerous pictures of him with Republican leaders from Sen. John McCain to former presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

There's even a picture from Reagan signed, "To Charlie Sexton, With appreciation and best wishes, Ronald Reagan."

On another wall hangs a picture of an American flag comprised of the names of every person lost on Sept. 11, 2001.

It was here that the FBI launched a raid on Oct. 16, 2006, with multiple TV cameras lined outside capturing images — mere weeks before a tight contest between Weldon and his Democratic challenger, Joe Sestak. Sestak would go on to win that election.

"Quarter to seven in the morning, I had a campaign meeting going on in the house here," Sexton said. "My wife answered the door and there was a load of FBI agents outside that came in with a search warrant."

"They took boxes of documents out of here, which I got back some four years later and the seals were still sealed on the boxes," he said. "I was never charged with a crime. I have never been convicted of a crime."

Sexton: 'Had a job to do'

He said watching the FBI raid Trump's home brought back memories of that day.

"I will not trash the FBI or the Mar-a-Lago raid or the raid at my house," Sexton said. "They are people. They had a job to do and their job is when the boss tells you there's an investigation to be open, you do it. I'm a former police officer. I respect that and I understand that."

However, he shared his opinion on what occurred.

"I tell you," Sexton said. "Stop and think about this: Who was arrested? Who was indicted? Why wasn't there a grand jury? None of this ever took place. It was a political hit to get the congressman."

The Los Angeles Times reported that a federal grand jury had subpoenaed some of Weldon's congressional records. However, Weldon, his daughter and Sexton never faced any charges.

"Two weeks before the general election, they put this raid on my house and his daughter's place," Sexton said.

FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski said the FBI declined to comment.

Sexton and Weldon said the former congressman had enemies in Washington.

"What you see is what you got," Sexton said. "He couldn't be bought. They did not want him chairman of the ( House) Armed Services Committee and they knew if he was re-elected, he would go in as chairman of the Armed Services Committee He wrote a book, called "Able Danger," which he never published because his attorneys told him, 'Curt, if you publish this, you're liable to have an accident.' "

And, Weldon was a passionate supporter of the V-22 Osprey, built at the Boeing plant in Delaware County and employing thousands here. At the time, the program was under threat of being scrapped yet Weldon fought for it and won.

Weldon: 'A great fear'

Weldon agreed with Sexton's assessment.

"There was a great fear," Weldon said of the potential of him becoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. "It wasn't the Democrats alone. Leaders of both parties did not want me to take that position."

He said it was 7 a.m. when they raided his daughter's house.

"No investigation, zero," Weldon said. "A year later, they called and said, 'When do you want your records back?' They never talked to her. It was all to create the scandal or the appearance of a scandal. It destroyed her life ... They had to find some reason to create some story that would affect the election."

Sexton felt Weldon's election loss impacted the county in a negative way.

"They screwed the voters and the residents of Delaware County," Sexton said. "This man is the best congressman in my lifetime in this county and I'm 86 years old."

"The people on the Democrats side and the Republican side, I'm talking about the Biden administration and I'm talking about former President Trump — they all have got to be transparent and they must release this information on what caused the raid," he said. "The American public is entitled to know that and I think it's wrong for the government to sit on it and I don't think President Trump should sit on it. Let the American people know what's happening."

The former GOP leader clarified his position.

"Let me be clear: I am not a Trumpster," he said. "I am a conservative Republican. I believe in the policies that the Trump administration had — they were good for the country and I support that kind of policy. I don't support his behavior. He had great policies.

"And I can't support Biden. I can't support that administration," he continued. "My great-grandchildren are going to be paying for this debt."

His Republican roots remain strong as he said he'd like to see Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris impeached on dereliction of duty for failing to protect the United States from drug cartels who enter the country illegally.

"Also, I feel the Speaker of the House (Nancy) Pelosi should be indicted for dereliction of duty," Sexton said. "She's a watchdog and she should've brought this to Congress's attention. We've had children ... poisoned by fentanyl and illegal drugs ... This is a destruction to the youth of the United States of America."

If he could, he'd get back into the political boxing ring. His passion is still there.

"I miss this life," he said, looking at the pictures on his wall, "but I'm too old for it now. I wouldn't put up with (what's) going on today. It's terrible."

(c)2022 Daily Times, Primos, Pa.

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