Coleman Wants Campaign To Pay Cost Of Responding To TPM Story — Even Though It Never Responded

May 12, 2009 10:22 a.m.

Now this is some chutzpah…

Norm Coleman is arguing that he should be able to use campaign funds to pay his legal bills in connection with the Nasser Kazeminy allegations, citing the need to respond to inquiries on the subject from TPMmuckraker and others in the media. But we’re kind of unclear about what expenses the Coleman camp incurred here — because they never responded to us in the first place.In a brief that was sent to the Federal Election Commission last month and examined this afternoon by TPMmuckraker, Coleman campaign lawyer Ben Ginsberg wrote that he is seeking confirmation that the campaign “may pay the legal fees and expenses described below.”

Under “Matters Generating Legal Fees”, Ginsberg wrote:

Over the last several months, Senator Coleman’s campaign and legal counsel have been forced to (1) respond to allegations arising from baseless complaints filed by Senator Coleman’s political opponents; (2) monitor ongoing litigation related to these topics, prepare for possible involvement in such litigation, and preserve documents that may prove relevant to the litigation; and (3) provide responses and information to the media on these topics. (our itals)

Further down in the brief — after making a lengthy argument as to why such costs should be payable by the campaign — Ginsberg attached several news stories on the Coleman-Kazeminy allegations, the first of which is this story by TPMmuckraker.

But here’s the thing. We never heard from the Coleman campaign on that story, or on any of the several other stories we wrote about the allegations. Of course, we didn’t contact them. Instead, we contacted Coleman’s Senate office, since this was a question about Coleman’s activities as a senator, not about his campaign.

The Senate office never responded to our numerous calls on the subject. In fact, as we wrote last December, we left at least ten detailed voicemail messages for Leroy Coleman, the senator’s Washington press secretary (and no relation) asking whether Coleman had been contacted by the FBI in connection with their investigation of Kazeminy. We didn’t get a single call back.

To be clear: we didn’t get a single communication in any form — from either Coleman’s campaign office or his Senate office — in response to our inquiries on the Kazeminy issue. So how the campaign can now be using our inquiries to argue that it should be able to pay Coleman’s legal expenses is sort of beyond us.

To refresh your memory on the underlying issue: A lawsuit filed last fall claims that Nasser Kazeminy, a longtime Coleman backer and friend, used an insurance company that employs Coleman’s wife to illegally pass money to Coleman. The FBI is looking into the charges. Coleman still hasn’t said whether he’s been contacted by the Feds, but has of course hired a lawyer in connection with the investigation. It’s that lawyer, former federal prosecutor Doug Kelley, whose fees are at issue here.

We’ve called Ginsberg to ask him about this, and will let you know if we get a response. It’d be the first response we’ve ever gotten on this from Team Coleman.

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