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.