Washington Babylon — December 12, 2008, 9:26 am

Senator Norm Coleman’s Growing List of Friends

From Fox TV in St. Paul:

The FBI is now reportedly investigating the allegations that Nasser Kazeminy tried to funnel $75,000 in campaign contributions through the Senator’s wife. By why would a U.S. Senator, who makes about $180,000 a year, need the money?

Norm Coleman’s home in St. Paul’s Crocus Hill neighborhood is not lavish — but it’s a lot nicer than it used to be, thanks in part to contractor Jim Taylors, who helped remodel the home two years ago. “Put in a second floor master bedroom/bathroom, the bedroom was there, we just added a bathroom and closet and a kitchen remodel, actually turned into half the house remodel by the time we painted and refinished floors and did some landscape work,” says Taylors.

The remodeled kitchen was the backdrop for some of the Senator’s campaign commercials. FOX 9 learned the woman in charge of the project was Shari Wilsey, an interior designer. Wilsey, along with her husband Roger, are longtime friends of the Coleman’s and financial contributors to the Senator’s campaigns.The Wilsey’s even hosted a fundraiser for Senator Coleman during the Republican National Convention at their Summit Ave mansion, just blocks from the Coleman’s.

Two lawsuits allege that in spring of 2007, Edina businessman Nasser Kazeminy began a series of $25,000 payments to Coleman from Deep Marine Technology, a company he controlled in Texas, to Hays Companies, the Minnesota Insurance company where Laurie Coleman works….

Records provided by the campaign showed Coleman paid his friend Wilsey, the general contractor, in full for the renovation, $414,000. And he did it in part by refinancing his home in March 2007, for $775,000. The Senator acknowledges that, like a lot of people in America, he now owes more on his home than it’s actually worth. That isn’t a crime. What we know is this: the senator had costly and overbudget renovations to his home at the same time a contributor was allegedly trying to funnel him money. We don’t know if the Colemans’ really needed the money, or if the Kazeminy allegations are even true.

Incidentally, the spring of 2007 is also the time that another good friend of Coleman’s bought a town house on Capitol Hill. A few months later, Coleman, in what he has said was an effort to save money, rented a portion of the town house’s basement apartment. (It appears he paid his friend below-market rent.) So Coleman certainly appears to have been hard pressed for money back then.

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More from Ken Silverstein:

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