Coleman hires lawyer in connection with lawsuit

Sen. Norm Coleman
Sen. Norm Coleman, seen here with his wife Laurie Coleman after Election Day, has hired an attorney in connection with allegations that a wealthy friend tried to steer $75,000 to the senator.
MPR Photo/Lorna Benson

Norm Coleman has denied the allegations. His campaign confirmed Tuesday that Coleman hired Doug Kelley, a defense lawyer and former assistant U.S. attorney.

Coleman's campaign spokesman, Luke Friedrich, called the allegations "nothing more than political and financial extortion," and noted that Coleman called for an investigation last month.

"To that end, he has retained counsel to work cooperatively with authorities when such an investigation is conducted ... and to hold those who made these false allegations against the senator accountable," Friedrich said in a statement. "To this date the senator, nor his legal counsel, have been informed that any such investigation is under way."

Friedrich said that the legal fees will be covered by the campaign.

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"We will be seeking the necessary approvals at the proper time to ensure that this is done in strict accordance with all appropriate laws and rules," he said.

In a Texas civil lawsuit filed shortly before the election, the former CEO of Texas-based Deep Marine Holdings claimed that Minnesota businessman Nasser Kazeminy used that company to funnel money to an insurance company that employs Coleman's wife, Laurie Coleman.

A second lawsuit, filed in Delaware by Deep Marine shareholders, makes similar allegations.

FBI agents are talking to people in connection with the case down in Texas, according to a federal official. The official talked on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the matter.

Coleman, Kazeminy and officials with the insurance broker, Hays Companies, have all denied the allegations.

Kelley said that Coleman hired him last month, with a mission to "get to the bottom" of the allegations as quickly as possible.

"I think whenever allegations like this surface one week before the election, they are inherently suspect," Kelley said.

McKim's lawyer has said that the timing had nothing to do with the election.

Coleman's hiring of an attorney was first reported by the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.


(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)