Politico, MinnPost and the Star Tribune, among other outlets, reported today that the Federal Election Commission ruled that former Sen. Norm Coleman can use campaign funds to defend himself against allegations that Nasser Kazeminy, a longtime friend and political supporter, steered some $75,000 to him through a company that employed Coleman’s wife.
Coleman is not named in any lawsuits and has denied that he had anything to do with the alleged transfer of cash.
Meanwhile, a Minnesota Supreme Court decision is expected any day now in Coleman’s legal appeal of the U.S. Senate race recount, which put Al Franken, the DFL challenger, ahead by 312 votes — out of 3 million votes cast.
The recount and attendant litigation reportedly has cost the candidates more than $1.7 million, through the end of March, according to a report today in the Saint Paul Legal Ledger. The Republican Senatorial Committee gave Coleman more than $937,000 in May to pay his top-shelf lawyers, according to the Pioneer Press, which noted thatÂ the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee reported raising more than $282,000 in May for Franken’s recount effort.
The report in the Legal Ledger details the big donors in the Franken column, a who’s who of show business names — “93 individual donations of $10,000 or more to the Franken Recount Fund totaled $1,058,400 between Nov. 5 and March 31 — the end of the last FEC reporting period.”
The Legal Ledger pulls out the following celebs and their donations to Franken’s legal fund:
… author John Grisham, who contributed $10,000; comedian and actor Dan Aykroyd, $12,300; actor Tom Hanks, $12,300; musician Don Henley, $10,000; TV producer Norman Lear, $12,300; actor Mike Myers, $12,300; and actress Heather Thomas, $10,000. (Other big names on Franken’s donor list, though not necessarily in the $10,000-plus club, include actors Jason Alexander, Jane Curtin, Larry David, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas, Larry Hagman, Ed Harris, Steve Martin, Edward Norton, Paul Reiser, Tony Shalhoub, Meryl Streep, Sam Waterston and Robin Williams.
The newspaper also reported that Coleman tapped some billionaires and business moguls, including “Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., who gave $10,000; William F. Austin, founder and CEO of Starkey Laboratories Inc., $10,000; Stanley S. Hubbard, head of Minnesota’s Hubbard Broadcasting, $10,000; John R. Menard Jr., the founder and owner of Menards, $12,300; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman and CEO of Minnetonka-based Carlson Companies, $10,000; and Richard M. Schulze, founder and chairman of Richfield-based Best Buy, $12,300.”
If you didn’t know, Coleman and Franken are Jews (Minnesota has had a Jewish senator continuously since 1978 (Rudy Boschwitz, Paul Wellstone and Norm Coleman). The peculiar trend will continue for another six years, whichever way the recount battle goes. (The names of Jewish donors above are in bold face.)
— Mordecai Specktor