Did a Bogus Scandal Send Al Franken to the Senate?
DOJ closes investigation of former senator Norm Coleman and Nasser Kazeminy.
1:57 PM, Jun 14, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Former FBI director Louis Freeh announced today that the Department of Justice has closed its investigation of former Minnesota senator Norm Coleman and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, who is a client of Freeh's law firm. The DOJ "advised both me and Doug Kelly, who is an attorney here representing Norm Coleman, that they had closed the case and that they were not bringing any charges with respect to the inquiry," Freeh told THE WEEKLY STANDARD during a phone interview.
In the closing days of the 2008 Minnesota Senate race, allegations surfaced that Kazeminy had funneled $100,000 to then-senator Norm Coleman through Coleman's wife's company. "Suit alleges ally funneled money to the Colemans," read one October 31, 2008 headline in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The press dogged Coleman for answers. Al Franken and Democrats hammered Coleman on the matter. "This is not about Norm Coleman's wife," Al Franken said during the final debate. "This is about Senator Coleman's political sugar daddy."
It's possible that the allegations against Coleman handed victory to Al Franken, who ended up winning the seat by a razor-thin margin of a few hundred votes during a contentious recount process.
On October 28, 2008, just before the election, Paul McKim, a former business partner of Kazeminy, filed a lawsuit in Texas court against Kazeminy and then went to the press with the allegations. As the Star Tribune reported on November 1:
Freeh says that later McKim prepared an affidavit in which he would recant in exchange for a financial settlement. The affidavit stated in part:
"This was a person who had a clear motive to enrich himself by using this false allegation as leverage to get a monetary settlement," Freeh told me. Whether McKim's actions went beyond normal conduct settlement is "something that a government prosecutor would have to look at with all the evidence," Freeh said.
"When there's a settlement parties retract their claims, they modify their claims," Freeh continued. "I think hypothetically if you intentionally lie, use that to try that to extract a settlement, and then for the settlement withdraw that statement, that would be pretty close to the line of what would be tolerated from a criminal point of view."