If Norm Coleman is as innocent as he says of receiving tens of thousands of dollars of improper gifts from his wealthy friend Nasser Kazeminy, there’s a lot he could do, with the help of his friends, to put the allegation to rest.
So far, he has declined to do these things, relying instead on ever-more strongly worded denials but not putting out any proof, some of which he almost surely possesses.
Last week I asked Sen. Coleman, the Hays Companies and Kazeminy to advance the cause of disproving the allegations made in two lawsuits by releasing documents that would come pretty close to settling the question. No documents were produced.
Coleman’s campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, replied to my request with: “The Senator has denied these baseless and slimy allegations, and has stated he welcomes an investigation. That’s all we have to say on the matter.”
The public relations firm that Kazeminy has engaged to handle his response to the matter declined to go any further than Kazeminy’s previous statements that “Mr. Kazeminy vehemently denies the false and baseless claims made against him.”
I have, to date, received no reply to my missive to the media contact email for Hays Companies.
They all have, of course, every right to ignore such a request until it comes from a court, a law enforcement agency, or perhaps the Senate Ethics Committee. But if, as all three say, they have nothing to hide and have done nothing like what was alleged in the lawsuits, they would appear to have little to lose from establishing that with documents and not just adjectives.
What documents am I talking about? It’s pretty simple. Norm and Laurie Coleman could make public records showing what Mrs. Coleman has earned since the beginning of 2007, a copy of the contract under which she is paid by the Hays Companies, the nature of the work she did under that contract and documents indicating which Hays clients she serviced and what she was paid. If Sen. Coleman can establish that his wife did a reasonable amount of work for a reasonable amount of pay, the idea that her job is some kind of a sham will take a serious blow.
It’s important that whatever records they might choose to divulge be as tamper-proof and time-stamped as possible. Let’s face facts. Sen. Coleman has already said there is nothing to the allegations. If he wants to convince people who weren’t willing to take his word for that, it’s important that the documents be above reproach and not easily susceptible to the suspicion that they were created after the fact.
The Hays Companies, founded and run by Jim Hays, another wealthy Coleman friend and supporter, could also, at Coleman’s request and with Kazeminy’s permission, make public the contract under which Hays has been paid at least $75,000 (and perhaps more) by Deep Marine Technology (a Texas company, controlled by Kazeminy, engaged in the underwater exploration for and production of offshore oil and gas) for some kind of undisclosed consulting services.
In case you are just tuning in, the allegation in the lawsuits is that at Kazeminy’s direction, and presumably with Hays’ collusion, a sham contract was struck between DMT and Hays that required no real work but provided cover for Kazeminy to put up to $100,000 into a pipeline that would run from DMT to Hays to Mrs. Coleman for the benefit of Sen. Coleman.
Paul McKim, the plaintiff in one of the suits who is also the founder and, until recently at least, the CEO of DMT, says that DMT received nothing of any value to the corporation for its payments to Hays and that he tried to stop the arrangement after the first $75,000 had been paid. (In fairness to Sen. Coleman, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have not alleged that any improper payments reached either of the Colemans, only that a scheme with that purpose was launched with DMT money.)
If Hays can document that DMT received a reasonable amount of service under the contract, the idea of the sham contract would receive a serious blow.
Hays might also document what particular expertise it has in the insurance needs of an underwater mining concern. The possession of such expertise might help explain why a Texas firm would come to Minneapolis for its advice. For example, if Hays is paid similar amounts for its advice by similar clients, that would support the notion that the DMT-Hays contract was a real deal.
If such documentation exists, and if all of the parties agreed to its release, it’s hard to see why the documents should or could not be made public. I asked for such documents in my email to Hays.
Lastly, Kazeminy could, through his control of Deep Marine, produce and make public internal records of that company establishing that, contrary to the allegations of Deep Marine’s suspended CEO, the DMT-Hays contract was legitimate and that DMT received for its considerable payments real work that was of value to DMT.
If all of those documents were made public and checked out, there would be little remaining basis to believe that, as alleged in two lawsuits backed up by some documents and at least one sworn statement, the DMT-Hays contract was a sham designed to channel money from Kazeminy to Hays to Laurie Coleman and ultimate to the personal benefit of Sen. Coleman.
Coleman has said that neither he nor his wife ever got a dime out of any such deal, but questions linger — questions that could be easily answered if Coleman, Kazeminy and Hays produce documents that back up their public statements.