WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fighting for a U.S. Senate seat is nothing if not a full time job — unfortunately it’s not one that pays the bills.
That fact has left Norm Coleman with little choice than to find work while he continues to wrangle with Al Franken over the final outcome of Minnesota’s Senate race, according to Coleman spokesman Mark Drake.
The former Republican senator took a job Thursday with the Republican Jewish Coalition, a Washington, D.C., organization that does outreach and lobbying and counts a number of GOP heavyweights among its board members.
“Coleman is not a member of the millionaire’s club,” Drake said. “He is someone who has to work to pay his mortgage and help his kids get through school.”
And, of course, those costly recount lawyers aren’t helping.
Coleman, who is Jewish, will join the coalition as a paid consultant and strategic advisor and will travel around the country fundraising and speaking to Jewish communities about current affairs, according to the Coalition’s Executive Director Matt Brooks.
He will not, however, work as a lobbyist, in keeping with new ethics rules prohibiting Senators from lobbying for at least two years after leaving office.
Drake and Brooks specified that the job would end if Coleman was seated as senator.
The State Canvassing Board declared Franken the winner of the Senate race earlier this month, but Coleman has filed a court challenge to the results.
Coleman is scheduled to speak in early February at a luncheon in New York for the Coalition’s leadership. Board members include Lewis Eisenberg, former national finance co-chairman for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and past Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.
“Norm Coleman has been an active and engaged member of the Republican Jewish Coalition back to his days as the mayor of St. Paul,” said Brooks.
The Coalition paid for a number of Coleman’s trips, during his time as Minnesota’s Senator. But, as Brooks said, “the trips we took him on were part of his official duties as a U.S. senator, and were all within the rules and reported to the Senate.”
Brooks would not say how much Coleman would be paid, but did say that he hoped Coleman would be able to bring in new donors.
“He has a lot of people he has known over the years and hopefully he will help to get them involved,” said Brooks.
Lawrence Noble, former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, said that Coleman would have to be careful given the nature of his situation, stuck in either a pre-Senate employment, or post-Senate employment period.
“It is a unique and awkward situation,” said Noble, who now works at a Washington law firm advising clients on the regulation of political activity. “He is still fighting for a seat, but he is going out and getting another job… any time you are in a situation like that, there are ethical traps you have to worry about.”
But Stanley Brand, a Washington lawyer who represents current and former lawmakers, said that there are no rules that bar Coleman from becoming employed.
“Obviously, if he were to ultimately succeed in the legal challenges and be seated by the Senate he would have to disengage from his employment and unwind those relationships, but that is something that anyone who has worked in the private sector has to face,” said Brand.
Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.