Suitgate is back! Yesterday Sen. Norm Coleman used his own frivolous lawsuit against Al Franken as his weapon of mass distraction. What goes around comes around!
A lawsuit that has been swirling in the blogosphere has finally made the news. A Texas man is suing a wealthy supporter of Coleman claiming he was forced to make $75,000 in secret payments to Coleman through the senator's wife, Laurie, according to a complaint filed in Harris County, Texas, district court. The lawsuit was supposedly pulled, but was reinstated yesterday.
Coleman vehemently denies the allegations.
View the lawsuit here.
According to Politico:
A spokesman for Coleman, who is in a tight reelection campaign against Democrat Al Franken, denied the allegation as false and described it as an "eleventh-hour attack" intended to influence the race.
On Monday, Paul McKim, the founder of a Houston-based oil-rig servicing company Deep Marine Technologies, filed suit against Coleman's longtime friend Nasser Kazeminy and several other investors for mishandling the company's finances.
McKim claims Kazeminy -- who owns about 50 percent of the company -- asked him to funnel cash to Laurie Coleman through the insurance firm she works for in Minneapolis, the Hays Companies.
"Laurie Coleman never provided any type of services or products," the complaint alleges, "nor has any other person on behalf of Hays provided any type of services."
McKim says he objected to the arrangement, but acquiesced after Kazeminy threatened to fire him. The Iranian-born businessman, one of Coleman's top supporters in Minnesota, "coerced [McKim] into approving the first monthly payment of $25,000 from DMT to Hays," the court documents state.
Two additional $25,000 payments were made in 2007, McKim claimed in a floridly-written 30-page petition that includes a social networking chart connecting Kazeminy to Coleman and Jack Abramoff's old law firm, Greenberg Traurig.
"This absolutely ludicrous eleventh-hour attack is an entirely baseless claim," said Coleman spokesman Cullen Sheehan. "It's totally false and ridiculous."
Laurie Coleman, he said, is a "licensed insurance representative," adding that the "senator's wife has the right to work for a living."
A message left with Kazeminy's office wasn't returned.
McKim's lawyer declined an interview request and said his client wasn't talking to reporters.
Another Coleman spokesman, Mark Drake, said, "The lawsuit was withdrawn hours after it was filed."
But a Harris County court clerk, reached Thursday afternoon, said the suit was still active but no future hearings had been scheduled.
Kazeminy and his family have contributed tens of thousands to Coleman's campaign and recently paid $3,960 to send Coleman and his daughter on a private plane to the Bahamas.
Minnesota DFL Chair Brian Melendez raised the issue of potential criminality in the case.
"These allegations of criminal behavior are serious and deeply troubling," he said in a statement. "The Plaintiff has verified those allegations -- meaning that he will go to jail if he's lying. Senator Coleman has a duty to the people of Minnesota to explain why those allegations aren't true before the voters go to the polls on Tuesday."
Plaintiff Paul McKim, courtesy of MNIndy
The law firm lawyer reminded reporters that this lawsuit is not against Coleman or his wife:
We didn't allege that Norm Coleman did anything wrong. We didn't sue him or his wife of the Hays Companies. The wrongs were done to the company [DMT] and to the minority shareholders.
The lawsuit was filed Monday and it started the engines for settlement negotiations. To show our good faith, we dismissed the lawsuit. The settlement negotiations broke down and we re-filed the lawsuit today.
Now Coleman's long week of silence during suitgate looks even more suspicious. Did he actually have something to hide? Kazeminy was the friend accused of buying clothes at Neiman Marcus for Coleman and his wife. We will keep you updated on this lawsuit as well as the suit again Franken. What drama.