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New allegation surfaces in Coleman case

While Sen. Norm Coleman waits to confirm whether or not he’s been reelected, the late-breaking controversy that dominated the last days of the campaign hasn’t gone away, and has been spiced up with a new detail.

The original allegation that Coleman’s friend and supporter Nasser Kazeminy improperly channeled at least $75,000 to Coleman in 2007 through Coleman’s wife’s work in the insurance business became public in the last week of the campaign.

The allegation was first contained in a lawsuit out of Texas by the CEO of a company Kazeminy controlled alleging that Kazeminy told top executives the Texas company to pay funds to the Minneapolis-based Hays Company (with which Laurie Coleman has a contractor relationship) because Kazeminy didn’t think U.S. senators were paid enough. (The Hays Company, a big insurance firm, is owned by another Coleman friend and supporter, Jim Hays.)

Coleman, Kazeminy and Hays have all said that there is nothing to the allegation, and Coleman accused his opponent, DFLer Al Franken, of pulling a late-campaign smear (which Franken likewise denies).

The Star Tribune quietly noted on Nov. 1 that a second lawsuit, this one filed in Delaware by some minority shareholders in the Texas company, restated the same allegations. But Monday the details of the second lawsuit (PDF) hit the web and alleged one new detail. In the Delaware suit, it is stated that before Kazeminy decided to use the Hays Company to funnel money to the Colemans through Laurie Coleman, he first asked the executives of the Texas company (which is in the business of servicing offshore oil and gas exploration) to send company money directly to Norm Coleman himself.

Let’s be very clear. None of this has been proven at all. The first lawsuit was based on a sworn statement by the plaintiff, who claimed to have personal knowledge of what Kazeminy was allegedly trying to do. The second lawsuit simply attributes the facts to a confidential informant. And, in fairness to the Colemans, it should be noted that neither lawsuit alleges that the senator or his wife had any knowledge of the alleged scheme, nor does either plaintiff claim to know that the money reached the Colemans.

It is established by documents attached as exhibits to the Texas lawsuit that three $25,000 checks were sent from the Texas underwater oil firm to Hays Coompany, purportedly for some kind of consulting services. Presumably, if the lawsuits proceed to the discovery stage, the question of whether the consulting contract was real or was a ruse to funnel money to Sen. Coleman will be proven or disproven.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Mark Gisleson on 11/11/2008 - 11:25 am.

    BUT if the allegations prove to be true, then it would be impossible to say that the Coleman’s were ignorant of the plot. In a world where you can go to jail for cashing a check made out to you (if the check was drawn in error and you knew it), how can anyone receive paychecks without knowing what work they’ve done to earn them?

    Have any intrepid ink stained wretches ever asked Laurie Coleman what exactly she does for the Hays Companies? As I recently noted elsewhere, it’s extraordinarily unusual for an insurance company to pay a newly licensed agent fees like this on an independent contractor basis, other than in some sort of sales capacity.

    Why can’t ANYONE find out what exactly Laurie Coleman did to earn her Hays paychecks?

  2. Submitted by Jim Elwell on 11/11/2008 - 02:05 pm.

    One of the interesting nuggets buried in the second suit is that Kazeminy apparently used DMT as a personal ATM to disburse funds to family members (Exhibit D in the complaint) who had not provided services to the company.

    Not a smoking gun, but it does suggest a suspicious pattern of behavior.

  3. Submitted by Kathy Kleckner on 11/11/2008 - 02:54 pm.

    I want reporters to STOP stating that Coleman accuses Franken of being behind this lawsuit without also stating that Coleman offers NO EVIDENCE of Franken being a part of it. I want balance.

  4. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 11/11/2008 - 10:10 pm.

    Minnesota Ripe for Election Fraud
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,449334,00.html

  5. Submitted by Peter Walker on 11/12/2008 - 02:01 pm.

    As someone who knows Nasser Kazeminy, I have to laugh. If you knew the man, you would know that EVERYONE who knows him knows his good heart, generous and giving nature and honor.

    This guy supports well over 100 charities, has a long history of good acts and a 30 year track record of good business dealings.

    He has a fine family and I personally know of dozens of people he has helped.

    Kazeminy is a honorable human being and was wholly undeserving of such wretched treatment by the press.

    It is a good thing that your paper dealt with the issue with fairness.

    Lets hope common sense comes back to this country.

    When I see a good man attacked unfairly, I must speak out.

    Thanks for listening.

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