In Sen. Norm Coleman's campaign announcement this morning of a lawsuit against his opponent Al Franken for false accusations in his TV and radio ads, his spokesman cited Franken's use of a Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington report of the most corrupt members of Congress.
Melanie Sloan, the group's executive director, spoke to City Pages to clarify their report and respond to Coleman's claims.
Franken's TV ad says that Coleman is the "fourth most corrupt senator". Sloan said that statement isn't exactly accurate.
"I can see how they came to that conclusion," she said, "but that's certainly not what we said."
Sloan said their list of corrupt Congressional members is simply a list and not a ranking in any way, but it did contain just four Senators. Coleman received a dishonorable mention, while three of the 20 most corrupt were also senators.
She said it would be correct to say Coleman is one of four most corrupt senators according to their report because 96 other senators did not make the list at all.
Sloan said Coleman made the list because the organizations had issues with his rent situation in Washington, D.C. The group filed a complaint with the Ethics Committee, but there has been no decision on the matter. Coleman is paying $600 a month for a bedroom in the basement of a Capitol Hill row house.
Coleman's campaign also cited the group as a Democratic-leaning organization with ties to Franken, which Sloan said is false. She said she has had no contact with Franken's campaign.
"We have no ties to the Franken campaign," she said. "When Franken was on Air America, I did appear on his program as did other people."
Sloan also clarified that they target both Republicans and Democrats. Republican candidates have used CREW material to target their opponents as well, she said.
For example, their reports on Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu have been heavily used by Republicans to target her.
After hearing from CREW, does Coleman really have a case against Franken?