Sen. Norm Coleman is filing a lawsuit today with the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings charging Al Franken’s campaign with deliberately lying about his record and residence in Washington. “Sen. Coleman is being falsely attacked,” spokesman Mark Drake said at a press conference this morning. “These are flat out falsehoods. This goes beyond the typical tit for tat you see in campaigns.”
Specifically, the Coleman campaign takes issue with a pair of ads stating that the Republican has been labeled the fourth most corrupt Senator in the country and pays almost nothing in rent on his Capitol Hill apartment.
As MNPublius has pointed out, Coleman has a long history of filing similar lawsuits in the waning days of campaigns. In 1998 he filed a complaint against Skip Humphrey arguing that the Democrat had deliberately distorted Coleman’s stance on farm issues during the gubernatorial campaign. Then in 2002 he lodged similar charges against Paul Wellstone, arguing that the Senator should be criminally prosecuted for misstating the Republican’s stance on Social Security. In both instances the complaints were dropped after election day.
Drake denied, however, that the lawsuit is simply a campaign tactic. “We’re going to file it today and see where it goes,” he said. “Our plan is to see that this is dealt with.”
The claim that Coleman is the fourth-most corrupt Senator in the country is based on a list released last month by the watchdog organization Citizen’s for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Coleman is indeed one of just four Senators to make the cut. “It’s a non-partisan organization in Washington that looks out for ethics,” noted John Stiles, communications director for the DFL party, after the press conference. “And if you look on their web site you’ll see a lot of Democrats that they’ve gone after.”
In June the National Journal reported that Coleman rents a Capitol Hill apartment owned by Republican fundraising guru and longtime Coleman confidant Jeff Larson for $600 a month. Only after the National Journal began asking questions about the deal did Coleman actually make all of the monthly payments. CREW has filed an ethics complaint against the Republican charging that the arrangement is a sweetheart deal and violates the Senate’s gift ban policy.
A few additional issues that have dogged the Coleman campaign were also raised by reporters at the press conference. Yesterday it was revealed that a lawsuit was recently filed in Texas charging that the Senator’s wife, Laurie, inappropriately received $75,000 from longtime Coleman supporter Nasser Kazeminy. The money was allegedly channeled through the insurance company where she works. Coleman campaign manager Cullen Sheehan stated that the lawsuit has been withdrawn, but it remains unclear if a settlement was reached in the matter. “I don’t know about the details of a settlement or not,” Sheehan said.
Drake also ducked a question about Coleman’s utility bills for his Washington apartment. The campaign previously promised to provide a copy of the bills to reporters in order to clear up questions about who pays for the Senator’s utilities, but has failed to follow through.