WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Republican Norm Coleman awaits a decision in Minnesota’s Senate recount trial, two lawsuits alleging that a prominent businessman improperly funneled money to the former senator from Minnesota remain in limbo.
The lawsuits, one filed in Texas and the other in Delaware, both allege that Minnesota businessman Nasser Kazeminy had $75,000 sent to Coleman in the form of insurance payments made to a company employing Coleman’s wife, Laurie.
In the Texas case, Paul McKim, the former chief executive officer of Deep Marine Technology Inc., claims that Kazeminy, who is a Deep Marine shareholder, pressured him to overlook the payments. The Delaware lawsuit, filed by other company shareholders, cites McKim as a defendant and basically makes the same allegations, relying on a “confidential informant.”
The Texas case has now been postponed for at least two months until Deep Marine can complete a special investigation commissioned by the company’s board.
Next week, Deep Marine will also seek to dismiss the entire Delaware case.
Both Coleman and Kazeminy, who is a longtime friend and donor to the former senator, have denied any wrongdoing.
In December, Coleman announced that he would use campaign funds to pay for legal fees that may result from allegations made in the lawsuits.
The move sparked a debate among lawyers, watchdog groups and some donors over when, or even if, a politician should be allowed to use campaign money for a legal defense.
At the time, Coleman’s campaign confirmed that they were drafting an official request to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Senate Ethics Committee to ask for permission.
Coleman spokesman Tom Erickson said this week, “We’ve been in contact with FEC and are in the process of providing them with all of the detailed information they need, and require, to adequately address our request.”
It is not unusual for the FEC to have questions about a request and to ask for additional information, said Brett Kappel, a lawyer for Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP in Washington, D.C.
Once the FEC receives everything it needs and the request is publically posted, the commission has 60 days to issue an opinion.
Erickson declined to say when Coleman expects to provide the FEC with the information that it has required or even if Coleman has yet incurred any legal expenses relating to the two lawsuits and additional investigations.
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.