Coffer It Up

Norm Coleman's new job, by the numbers

Winthrop & Weinstine has a PAC, to which an additional $4,655 has been contributed, by a dozen of the firm's lawyers. So far in this election cycle, the fund has only made one disbursement, a $1,000 contribution to Coleman on November 17, 2001. I called John Knapp, treasurer of the PAC, to see if there have been any additional transactions that haven't yet been made public. Knapp was about as forthcoming as a fencepost. He did, however, take pains to emphasize that Winthrop & Weinstine is non-political, and that historically donations made by its attorneys and the PAC have skewed Democrat. When I asked how the PAC decided what to donate to whom, he said, "We have an informal process." (So far during this election cycle, no W&W lawyers have contributed to the Wellstone campaign. During the 1996 campaign, two attorneys did; one of them is no longer with the firm.)

Lobbyists have to register with the state and disclose their clients. A handful of W&W's three dozen or so lobbying clients contributed to Coleman's campaign after he announced he was joining the firm, including: Boise Cascade Corp. ($2,500); Eastman Kodak ($1,000); Koch Industries, whose Flint Hills Resources LP division is a client ($3,000); and Verizon Wireless ($2,000). Koch had given an additional $2,000 before Coleman got onboard, Verizon $5,000. Two other firms, ING and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., had earlier contributed $5,000 apiece as well. Finally, late last month the Star Tribune reported that the Prairie Island Dakota Community, another lobbying client, made a $25,000 donation at a March 4 Coleman fundraiser. (Interestingly, that story did not mention the tribe's tie to Coleman's new employer.)

It's tougher to enumerate people who work for Winthrop & Weinstine's lobbying clients, and harder still to identify clients who aren't associated with the firm's lobbying services, because those relationships aren't necessarily registered anywhere. But here are a few: Target CEO Robert Ulrich, who co-chairs the Minnesota Business Partnership Inc., a lobbying client, gave $2,000 before Coleman joined W&W. Larry S. Dowell, president and secretary of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, another client, pitched in $200. (Gary Cerny, CEO of client Reliant Energy Minnegasco, donated $250 on March 6, but the company's tie to a W&W lobbyist expired at the end of that month.) Local businessman Nasser Kazeminy, whose NJK Holding Corp. is represented by the firm in a non-lobbying capacity, gave $50,000.

Of course, none of this is as sexy as the revelation of how much Coleman's making. But it's nuts-and-bolts stuff, and it's important. That's why we have laws to ensure that it's accessible to the public, whether politicians like it or not.


The letter to Wellstone from Coleman campaign headquarters:

CONTACT: Leslie Kupchella
May 17, 2002

Coleman letter to Wellstone: let’s stay focused on the issues

Saint Paul---Norm Coleman today issued a letter to Paul Wellstone in response to the recent negative attacks on Coleman’s job at the law firm of Winthrop & Weinstein. The Wellstone campaign and the DFL party have recently issued negative releases regarding Coleman’s salary and his role in the firm’s new business development.

The letter to Wellstone reiterates Coleman’s pledge to run a campaign focused on the issues and not on personal attacks. Coleman challenges Wellstone to do the same.


Paid for and authorized by Coleman for U.S. Senate.

And the letter…..

May 17, 2002
Senator Paul Wellstone
136 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Also sent via FAX

Dear Senator Wellstone:

It has come to my attention that representatives from your Campaign have privately contacted members of the Minnesota media over the last several weeks attempting to peddle a story about my employment at the law firm of Winthrop and Weinstine.

Apparently, there has been encouragement from your representatives that the media should "look into" what it is that I am doing at Winthrop and Weinstine and my compensation.

While I would have welcomed a call from you to answer these questions directly, I am pleased to provide your campaign with this information. Additionally, I am forwarding a copy of this letter to the media so that they can have the information your representatives seem so eager to obtain.

First, as it relates to my salary with Winthrop and Weinstine, it amounts to $140,000 per year. This level of compensation is, I believe, consistent with someone who has a 26 year legal career, as well as decades of involvement in public policy throughout the State of Minnesota.

Second, my responsibilities

at the firm are not to provide legal counsel, at this time, but to assist in new business development. My primary role is to facilitate discussions with representatives of my firm, and potential clients, on a host of services that my firm offers. These services may include legal representation, government relations support, public relations and marketing outreach and strategic investment relationships with other clients that my firm represents.

Third, as your staff knows, my Minnesota Law License is currently inactive. This status will change sometime within the next several weeks as I finalize the

required CLE credits that have to be earned in order to reactivate my license to practice law in the State of Minnesota.

As you might expect, having served as Mayor for eight years, my focus on job creation, business development, holding the line on taxes and spending and other efforts that helped to create 18,000 new jobs and produce more than $3 billion in new public and private investment, did not leave me much time to practice law.

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