Washington Babylon — October 9, 2008, 12:39 pm

More Smoke From Senator Coleman on His Shopping Habits


Senator Norm Coleman’s office continues to hedge when asked about his relationship with donor Nasser Kazeminy. MinnPost.com provides some background:

I had heard this allegation [about a businessman buying suits for Coleman] before it became public and had asked [the senator’s campaign manager] Sheehan whether the senator had an arrangement with a businessman to pay for his clothes. He told me no, and I did not pursue the matter. But I now understand that to have been a technical, but not candid, answer…

  • In August, I heard a tip that a wealthy local businessman had an arrangement with Coleman under which the senator could pick out whatever clothes he wanted and the businessman would pay the bill. Not wanting to be tricky, I directly asked Cullen Sheehan whether there had ever been any such arrangement.?? He replied that Coleman had disclosed all gifts he was required to disclose. ??I suggested that this non-denial denial seemed to lend credibility to the rumor. The question was not about the reporting requirements but about whether Coleman and the businessman had any such arrangement.

  • On the second round, Sheehan repeated that all required disclosures had been made and added: “No, he has never had such an arrangement.”??I left the story there for several weeks, until the Harper’s piece ran. I called Sheehan back and asked if he was prepared to rebut the Harper’s piece, or whether he had been less than candid with me when he told me that Coleman “never had such an arrangement.”

  • After a couple of rounds of Coleman-disclosed-everything-he-was-required-to-disclose, Sheehan told me that his no-such-arrangement answer to me had been based on the word “arrangement.” In other words, Sheehan was not denying that Coleman received clothes from Kazeminy, only that he never had an “arrangement,” such as the one I suggested by my question, under which Coleman could pick out whatever clothes he wanted and Kazeminy would pay the bills.?? Sheehan never did say that Kazeminy has bought clothes for Coleman, but he might as well have. If Kazeminy had never bought clothes for Coleman, he could have laid the matter to rest any time, but instead he has given artful answers, not fully responsive to the questions.

MinnPost.com also writes:

  • ??Coleman has not disclosed any gifts of clothing from Kazeminy. Silverstein’s sources say Kazeminy has given such gifts, but could not say whether they occurred before or since Coleman became a senator.?? Let’s pause on that point for two thoughts: How knowledgeable could Silverstein’s sources be about the gifts if they don’t know the year in which they occurred? But also, if you are troubled by the idea of a businessman buying clothes for a senator, how much less troubling would it be if the gifts were made while Coleman was preparing to run or running for the Senate?

For the record, my sources both believed they had a good idea of when the purchases were made, but when pressed they could not, with absolute certainty, be specific enough for my satisfaction. The sources were certain that Coleman had clothing purchased for him by the businessman–and provided highly credible evidence to back up their assertions. So I asked Coleman’s office about it.

Like MinnPost.com, I believe, that “if you are troubled by the idea of a businessman buying clothes for a senator, how much less troubling would it be if the gifts were made while Coleman was preparing to run or running for the Senate?” But what also interests me, in addition to Coleman’s fashion sense, is that it’s clear that local reporters were chasing the story. I have been told that two local reporters at a major newspaper sat down and discussed the matter with Coleman. Why aren’t they publishing what they know? Did Coleman deny the story? Did he acknowledge it was true, but say the purchases were made before he joined the Senate? Did he offer any account at all?

The newspaper could perhaps clear up the mystery–which Coleman refuses to do–by publishing the information. Why is it sitting on a potentially important story? And why won’t Nasser
clear this up? Did he buy the suits for Coleman or didn’t he?

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More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

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