Serving in Congress and trying to maintain two places to live -- one back home and one in Washington -- can get expensive. (Not everyone has the money for a mansion like Hillary Clinton
Luckily, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has found a cheap place to crash when he's working inside the beltway -- renting an apartment from Republican operative and "robo-call" expert
Jeff Larson. Larson and his wife bought the townhouse on Capitol Hill in March 2007 for $989,900, according to National Journal
Coleman pays just $600 a month for a one-bedroom place in a Capitol Hill townhouse. That's remarkably cheap for the neighborhood, and a fraction of the $1,780 monthly rent Coleman paid on the Washington apartment he left in June 2007, according to a report this week
from the National Journal
Well, at least he usually pays. As the magazine discovered, Coleman doesn't pay his rent as promptly as many Americans.
Earlier this month, after National Journal questioned Coleman and Larson about the living arrangement, the senator said he discovered that his rent for last November and January had not been paid. In mid-June, Coleman covered the back rent with a personal check for $1,200 made out to Larson and signed by the senator's wife. Last year, Coleman sold furniture to Larson to cover one month's rent, according to Larson. And Larson held on to yet another month's rent check for three months, cashing it a few days after NJ's inquiries.
Coleman told the magazine that he moved into Larson's building to cut costs in July 2007. Coleman's Senate salary is $169,300.
It's unlikely Larson will evict Coleman anytime soon, since Larson has derived a lot of financial benefit from his relationship with the senator.
Larson's St. Paul-based company, FLS Connect, is a critical component of Coleman's political operation. The firm, which has raised money and hustled up voters for Coleman, has been paid about $1.6 million since mid-2001 by Coleman's Northstar Leadership political action committee and two Senate campaigns, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Larson serves as the PAC's treasurer and provides it with office space in St. Paul; Coleman's Senate campaign stopped renting space from Larson last year.
FLS Connect is a go-to shop
for the Republicans nationwide for fund raising and providing "robo-calls." In fact, the firm was targeted by the attorney general in Indiana for violating that state's automated call laws
. The firm is also linked to The DCI Group
, a lobbying firm that came under scrutiny for its work in Myanmar
and its ties to the John McCain campaign
. They're known for "Astroturf" organizing
as well as robo-calls
Also, Larson's wife has worked for Coleman:
Larson will get no argument on that score from his wife, Dorene Kainz, who went to work for the senator in September 2005 handling requests from Coleman's constituents in his St. Paul office. Senate records show that she has been paid $101,218 through March 31.