Norm Coleman Reportedly Under FBI Investigation

Sam Stein has the scoop for the Huffington Post:

The FBI is investigating allegations that former Senator Norm Coleman had clothing and other items purchased on his behalf by a longtime friend and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, according to a source in Minnesota who was interviewed recently by federal agents.

[...]

The Minnesota source said the FBI questioning focused on whether Kazeminy had purchased clothing on Coleman's behalf, reports of which surfaced in October. At the time, Coleman vehemently denied the allegations. "Nobody but me and my wife buy my suits," he said.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press separately has the story again:

FBI agents in Minnesota have begun asking questions about the relationship between former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and a close friend and donor, according to a Minnesota source to whom the agents talked.

It's not clear that this will make the Republicans any less likely to try to further drag out litigation to keep Al Franken from being seated in the Senate. After all, as Republicans have already conceded, keeping Franken out of the Senate -- even if just for a few more weeks or months rather than for good -- means that they can still filibuster when they want to.

But with this news out there, it will be increasingly difficult and potentially even untenable for Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty to continue resisting to certify Franken's victory in the seemingly likely event that the state's Supreme Court does not overturn the current count in the election. Pawlenty could try to hold out -- but for a former Senator reportedly under FBI investigation? It will be a tough argument to make, one that could not only harm his chances at reelection (should that be his goal) but even his hopes of challenging Barack Obama in 2012 (should that be his goal).

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Ad Watch: Seat Our Senator

From Chris Good over at The Atlantic comes a photo of a new billboard on I-94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul from Americans United for Change, AFSCME, Alliance for a Better Minnesota, and the Minnesota affiliates of AFL-CIO and SEIU:

I like the sentiment, as well as the fact that these liberal groups are taking assertive steps to try to apply pressure to Minnesota's Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty to seat the winner of the Senate election  that happened more than six months ago (!). What's more, I do realize that this is aimed at least as much at elites -- the news media, both inside the Beltway and in the Twin Cities -- as it is at the folks actually driving on I-94.

That said, it seems to me that it would worthwhile to make the billboard a little more direct. There's nothing on the outdoor advertisement, save for the posted URL SeatOurSenator.com, indicating what the specific message intended to be imparted is. Yes, the message might get through to Minnesotans and politics watchers all around the country through news reports (and, yes, even blog post) on the billboard. But wouldn't it be worth it to be slightly more clear to the drivers seeing the billboard each day that what Pawlenty is doing is putting his national ambitions over the good of the state by blocking Al Franken from being seated? Then again, maybe it's clear enough to the people of Minnesota, who have been enduring this GOP obstructionism for half a year, what the ad is talking about without further information?

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Shorter Arlen Specter On His Support For Norm Coleman: My Bad

Forget all that other stuff Arlen Specter said. He was just confused, you see.

"In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates," he said. "I'm ordinarily pretty correct in what I say. I've made a career of being precise. I conclusively misspoke."

Asked who he's backing now in elections, Specter said, "I'm looking for more Democratic members. Nothing personal."

A different day, a different party, what's a guy to do?

What Markos said:

He's so devoid of any conviction that one day, justice requires Coleman to be declared the winner, and the next day, it doesn't?

He's an empty, hollow, shell of a man. There is just one value that drives him -- political self-preservation.

But we have one thing in common. We both are looking for more Democratic members. That's why I hope Sestak primaries his ass.

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PA-Sen: Arlen Hoping Norm Wins

Hey, who said Arlen Specter wasn't consistent and principled? Here it's been two days since he declared that he had no intention of being a loyal Democrat and sure enough, according to Mark Halperin, the following will appear in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday:

The new Democrat says the Minnesota Republican should return to the Senate.

"There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner."

Wow, really? So, the question must be asked: DSCC, Ed Rendell, Joe Biden and Barack Obama, is he still your guy? Really?

I guess I gotta give Specter credit, with each passing day, he keeps making a stronger and stronger case for a primary challenge against him.

Update [2009-5-5 17:8:20 by Todd Beeton]:Deep thought: can we send Specter back?

Update [2009-5-5 17:25:22 by Todd Beeton]:In the comments the quote is being met with some skepticism, understandable considering the source. I would like to see a New York Times source give the full context of the quote but here's Byron York in the meantime:

In next Sunday's New York Times Magazine, Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter sits for the "Questions For" feature. In the not-yet-released article, Specter becomes the only member of the Senate Democratic caucus to pull for Republican Norm Coleman to win the disputed Senate race in Minnesota, although the way the question is phrased, it's not solely a matter of party loyalty or disloyalty:

Question: With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?

Specter: I sure do. There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.

What do you think?

Update [2009-5-5 17:25:22 by Todd Beeton]:Per TPM, Harry Reid's office responds to what appears to be an unambiguous statement of support for Norm Coleman by our latest "Democrat":

"Well, on that one we are just going to have to disagree," Manley writes, "because as far as Senator Reid and the people of Minnesota are concerned, Al Franken is going to be the next Senator from Minnesota."

I'd say Reid is being rather restrained. Regretting your support for Specter yet, Harry?

Update [2009-5-5 18:33:15 by Todd Beeton]:NYT link is up. Here's more context:

With your departure from the Republican Party, there are no more Jewish Republicans in the Senate. Do you care about that?
I sure do. There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.

Which seems about as likely at this point as Jerry Seinfeld’s joining the Senate.
Well, it was about as likely as my becoming a Democrat.

I don't really see how he could just be kidding as some have suggested, and clearly neither does the NYT since their headline is "Specter Backs Coleman For Senate."

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BREAKING: Norm Coleman Raises $60,000 for Progressives!

Over at the Dollar a Day to Make Norm Go Away campaign, Norm Coleman's insistence on being a sore loser has raised over $60,000 to help progressive congressional challengers defeat Republicans in 2010.

And that number gets higher by the hour.

This campaign was launched 2 weeks ago by Howard Dean's Democracy for America and the new Progressive Change Campaign Committee (which I co-founded after leaving MoveOn.org, along with some other great folks).

The goal is to change the incentives for Coleman's DC funders. Before, there was really no downside for those bankrolling Coleman's endless court challenges and denying Al Franken his Senate seat. But as thousands of us sign up to give $1 every day Norm refuses to concede -- to help progressives defeat Republicans -- the equation changes.

There are two things that make this campaign work: scale and buzz.

We've achieved great scale, but I'd like to formally invite anyone who hasn't already signed up to join the cause: NormDollar.com

I'd also like to thank DFA, MoveOn, Darcy Burner, BlogPAC, and countless blogs for sharing news of this campaign with their networks.

Rec on Kos.

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