Yesterday we reported that Jeff Larson was named as the buyer of Palin's clothes in Minneapolis. But who is this guy anyway? We called him the quiet giant in May, but suddenly he's of national attention.
The "Quiet Giant" is "perhaps the most powerful GOP operative nationwide," says Sarah Janecek. "And he earned it." Many say that he was also the single most important person in bringing the Republican National Convention to St. Paul. We profiled him as a major part of the convention.
But shortly after the story ran, his position in the current election season changed drastically. In late June, the National Journal reported on a supposed sweetheart rental deal he gave to Sen. Norm Coleman. His apartment, just blocks from the Capitol in a $1 million rowhouse, cost only $600 a month and reports showed Coleman had missed some rent payments and wasn't paying utilities. Democrats jumped on the story, but it turned into a dud. The Senator was living in the basement of the house and was renting a small bedroom, bathroom and wet bar.
In July, an independent watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee, asking for an investigation of that arrangement.
More from NJ:
Along the road to the top of the political heap in Minnesota, Coleman had plenty of help. But in the last dozen years, few if any supporters have played a more important role than a little-known Republican operative named Jeff Larson. Larson works in St. Paul but has gold-plated GOP connections in Washington and across the country. Or, as Coleman puts it: "He's the most connected person in D.C. that nobody in Minnesota knows."
Their relationship--the ambitious, energetic, can-do lawmaker and the low-key, behind-the-scenes strategist--has proved to be mutually beneficial. Larson's political telemarketing business appears to have profited handsomely from the relationship, and Coleman has turned to his close friend in times of need, including in his tough battle to win a second Senate term in November.
The story brought Larson into the spotlight as people questioned other possible deals the two had.
The rental deal blew over, but the most recent bombardment of Sen. John McCain robo calls was tied to Larson and brought a critical eye to the Republican.
According to Politics in Minnesota:
Earlier this month, FLS Connect – and, by association, Larson – came under fire again when it was revealed that the company was responsible for a series of anti-Barack Obama "robocalls" – automated, recorded phone messages that target voters with specific messages (and which are illegal in Minnesota).
FLS Connect, which has headquarters in St. Paul and call centers in Mankato, St. Cloud and Phoenix, has raked in $8 million during the 2007-08 election cycle just from the Republican National Committee. Breaking it down further: The RNC paid FLS Connect almost $2.9 million for telemarketing and other services in the six-month period from March through August 2008; the most profitable month was July, when the RNC wrote $636,822 in checks to FLS Connect, based on reports of receipts and expenditures filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Now we know he is a personal shopper for Palin and her family. His name appeared on the disclosure forms for the Republican for his shopping in Minneapolis. This included $75,000 at the local Neiman Marcus. Coleman and Palin now have a pretty influential friend and a love of expensive suits from NM.
We'll keep you updated if this story develops.