Washington Babylon — November 1, 2008, 10:55 am

Second Lawsuit Filed Against Senator Coleman’s Friend

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

A second lawsuit was filed Friday by minority shareholders who allege that a close family friend of Sen. Norm Coleman used a marine company in Texas to pay $75,000 to the senator via a Minneapolis insurance company where Coleman’s wife, Laurie, is an independent contractor. The suit attributes the allegations to a “confidential source.” Coleman’s campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, said Friday night that the suits are “baseless and false claims … being used to influence the outcome of the election.”

Franken spokeswoman Colleen Murray said no one associated with the Franken campaign had anything to do with bringing the lawsuit to light. She said Coleman was trying to deflect serious sworn allegations by Paul McKim, founder of Deep Marine Technology Inc. of Houston, in the first lawsuit. That lawsuit, filed in Harris County District Court in Houston, also alleges that Nasser Kazeminy steered the money from Deep Marine to the senator via Hays Companies, where Laurie Coleman, the senator’s wife, is a contractor…”I’m a Republican, but I’d never heard of Coleman before,” said McKim, who has given small campaign contributions to a few Republican politicians, including, U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas. “I don’t know the man. Maybe he’s a good man getting tangled up in this. I feel bad for anybody getting tangled up.”

Hays Companies, with headquarters in downtown Minneapolis, said Friday that McKim’s lawsuit contains false and defamatory allegations and is “disreputable.” The firm said in a statement that Laurie Coleman has been one of its independent contractors, selling insurance, since 2006. “We find any allegations that she accepted money for work she was not responsible for to be outrageous and contemptible,” the company said…McKim’s lawsuit was based on a sworn statement from him that Kazeminy coerced him and others to make three $25,000 payments to Hays. The second suit, brought by FLI Deep Marine LLC and Bressner Partners LTD, attributes its allegations to a “confidential source.” The source allegedly was told by Kazeminy in 2007 that “we have to get some money to Senator Coleman” because the senator “needs the money.”

McKim told the Star Tribune that Kazeminy approached him in 2007 with a “directive” to send $100,000 to Senator Coleman through Hays. “”He said that the senator’s wife worked there and she could get the money to him,” McKim told the newspaper. “I was kind of stunned. I was really shocked he would come out and say that so nonchalantly.” McKim said his company had no need for new insurance at the time, as it was already paying $1 million a year for insurance through underwriters in London.

The merits of the two lawsuits against Kazeminy aren’t clear but the situation shouldn’t be that difficult to clear up. Here are some relevant questions:

How did the Hays Companies, whose spouses and employees provided Senator Coleman with $20,700 in campaign contributions between 2002 and 2006, decide to hire Laurie Coleman?

McKim’s lawsuit says Kazeminy began pressuring him to hire Hays in March of 2007? When precisely was Laurie Coleman hired by Hays?

Laurie Coleman is an independent contractor. How is she compensated? Doe she get a salary or a commission on work that she brings in?

How did the Hays Companies come to be hired by Deep Marine? Did Deep Marine contact the Hays Companies to inquire about their risk management services? Or did the Hays Companies contact Deep Marine? If so, how did the Hays Companies know who to contact?

Deep Marine paid Hays $75,000. What work did Hays perform for that money?

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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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