VOICES | Coleman, Kazeminy and the lawsuit: Five reasons to doubt that it’s all just “sleazy politics”


Norm Coleman stood before a gaggle of reporters and fans at what was supposed to be a routine campaign stop in Moorhead this morning and addressed the story that’s been chasing after him for the past few days. Allegations that Coleman pal Nasser Kazeminy had funneled money to Laurie Coleman for doing a non-existent job were “absolutely false,” Coleman said. But that was only the starting point of his remarks, which sought for the better part of five minutes to paint the whole affair as a fabrication wrought by “Al Franken and his political allies.”

Second lawsuit claims Coleman fraudulently received $75,000
By Paul Demko, Minnesota Independent
A second lawsuit has been filed containing an identical allegation that Sen. Norm Coleman fraudulently received $75,000 from longtime friend and supporter Nasser Kazeminy, the Star Tribune reports. The case was filed Friday in Delaware Chancery Court and attributes the Coleman claim to a “confidential source.”

The lawsuit was brought by minority shareholders of Deep Marine Technology, a Houston-based firm that provides underwater services to oil companies. It alleges that Kazeminy utilized the firm to funnel $75,000 to the Republican senator through payments to his wife, Laurie Coleman, via the Minneapolis insurance company where she works.

Sen. Coleman has refuted the allegation, calling it a “sleazy” political attack, and blaming the controversy on his Democratic opponent. Al Franken’s campaign has denied any connection to the lawsuit.

Paul McKim, the founder of Deep Marine Technology, who filed the initial lawsuit in Texas on Monday, insists that the dispute is not politically motivated. In fact, he claims to have never heard of Coleman prior to the dust-up with Kazeminy. “It’s just weird timing with Senator Coleman and all this,” McKim tells the Pioneer Press. “I know how it must look, but it’s really not political. I feel bad for him and his family. I don’t know the gentleman, and I’m not a political guy. I’m just an old deep-sea diver. And I’m a Republican.”

In a twist, McKim is actually named as a defendant in the second lawsuit.

Only the plaintiff, Paul McKim, can answer with certainty as to his timing and motives — and Coleman’s allegation that the Strib received copies of the suit before it was filed (which is correct, according to sources there) casts doubt on the political innocence of the plaintiff’s team when it comes to the suit’s implications for Norm’s future. But that does not prove the Franken campaign had anything to do with it — unless you suppose that all the enemies Norm Coleman and/or Nasser Kazeminy have ever made now work in cahoots with the Franken campaign.

Ultimately, the question of whether politics played a role in the timing of the lawsuit has no bearing on the merit of the claims in the lawsuit. If people sometimes lie at an opportune moment for politicized reasons, as Coleman is suggesting, it is also the case that people sometimes tell the truth at an opportune moment for politicized reasons. And whatever its eventual disposition proves to be, there is considerable circumstantial evidence that this lawsuit was not merely ginned up to make Norm Coleman look bad on the eve of a hard-fought election. Let’s take the most obvious ones.

The lawsuit, contrary to the impression one might receive from Coleman’s response or from many of the press accounts, is not principally about the alleged payments to Laurie Coleman. The Kazeminy/Coleman narrative comprises roughly three pages of a 30-page legal complaint. Are we to believe the rest is all just incidental embroidery on a campaign to maliciously bring down Norm Coleman?

The complaint lodges numerous serious allegations about financial manipulations by Nasser Kazeminy and a number of his associates (there are six defendants in all). The plaintiff in the case, Paul McKim, would be facing serious legal jeopardy himself if those claims proved to be entirely baseless. (Counter-suit, anyone?)

The fact that the suit was temporarily withdrawn within a day or so while the parties negotiated toward a settlement augurs for a presumption that the claims in the suit were not entirely baseless — as does the immediacy with which the defendants took up settlement negotiations (within a matter of mere hours, apparently).

The PDF copy of the complaint posted at StarTribune.com includes photocopies of documents tracing payments from Deep Marine Technologies to Hays Companies (Laurie Coleman’s employer) as described in the complaint. [They’re on pages 29-33 of this PDF.] Now it’s possible that these documents describe legitimate transactions. (The legal complaint claims that Hays is not licensed to be an insurance broker in Texas; Hays this morning denied that.) They could conceivably be forgeries. But again, the plaintiff would be subjecting himself to a world of legal hurt if he were to sue someone based on gross and blatant fabrications.

McKim appears to be a Republican. By itself, this proves nothing — it’s possible to be a Republican and to have it out for one particular Republican — but it’s one more circumstantial factor that augurs against supposing McKim cooked up the whole thing in cahoots with the Democrats, as Coleman worked so fervently to suggest.