Former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman has asked the Federal Election Commission for permission to use his campaign funds to pay for legal bills in two lawsuits that target a top donor.
In a letter to the FEC, Coleman lawyer Ben Ginsberg writes that Coleman's legal team has been forced to respond to allegations in the lawsuits, monitor litigation and deal with media inquiries.
The lawsuits target Nasser Kazeminy, a friend of Coleman's and donor to his campaign.
A former CEO at Deep Marine Technology, a company owned by Kazeminy, has alleged in a Texas lawsuit that Kazeminy funneled $75,000 to an insurance company that employed Coleman's wife, Laurie. Shareholders of Deep Marine Technology in Delaware have filed a lawsuit with nearly identical allegations.
Coleman and his wife have denied any wrongdoing.
According to the document filed with the FEC, Coleman's lawyers have been preparing him to serve as a witness in both lawsuits.
The FEC does not generally allow personal legal fees to be paid with campaign funds, but it has made exceptions when a candidate or campaign can show that legal costs are tied to the candidate's position.
Ginsberg argues in the FEC filing that Coleman was singled out in the lawsuits because he was a senator and "for no other reason whatsoever."
News of Coleman's ties to Kazeminy broke just before Election Day. Coleman trails Democrat Al Franken by a narrow margin after a statewide recount. A special court has declared Franken the winner, but Coleman has appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)