On Friday, Norm Coleman’s campaign issued a statement on DonorGate alleging, “Sometime last week, even before this Texas lawsuit was originally filed, a copy of these false allegations was delivered in Minnesota in an unmarked envelope to two Minneapolis Star Tribune reporters.”
Later that day, I asked Strib managing editor Rene Sanchez if the paper had the lawsuit then. He told me, “We did not get a copy of this lawsuit until after it was filed Monday.”
Today (Saturday), Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan clarified: the unmarked envelope sent before the lawsuit filing “contained — not a lawsuit — but false allegations that became the basis of a lawsuit that was filed in Texas on Monday.”
Friday, I wrote that the Strib “contradicted” Coleman. Now, I believe both Coleman’s statements and the Strib’s are true — with a few important qualifications.
I believe the Strib didn’t have a copy of the lawsuit, but I now believe the paper had some version of some set of these allegations before this week. Sanchez wouldn’t comment when I tried to follow up.
My mistake? Unsuccessfully parsing Coleman’s initial statement; I read “copy of these false allegations” to mean “copy of the lawsuit.”
But let’s not get carried away revising the record.
Remember, the reason Coleman is making a big deal of the Strib is to somehow link Al Franken to the lawsuits (or, now, lawsuits). Yesterday, Coleman’s statement segued from the Strib receiving a pre-filing “copy of these false allegations” to Franken “running vicious, untrue attacks against me” on filing day.
That attempt was underscored today by a misleading Coleman ad, but even now, the Republican’s case is no stronger. The Coleman camp has provided no evidence Franken’s forces knew in advance; the Republican’s very acknowledgment of the “unmarked envelope” indicates he doesn’t know, either.
The Franken campaign has flatly denied knowing anything in advance. Franken also rebuts Coleman’s circumstantial link — ads referencing the incumbent’s D.C. rent deal and alleged “fourth-most-corrupt” status — by noting the claims were on TV well before last week.
If Franken wasn’t behind it, who was?
Like the Coleman campaign, I don’t know. It could’ve been the plaintiffs or allies who cared less about helping Franken than embarrassing defendent Nasser Kazeminy in his home state in the state’s largest daily. Perhaps they wanted to exploit the political calendar for leverage, but that doesn’t necessarily make their motives political or the claims less credible.