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An unmarked envelope arrives for two investigative reporters at the local newspaper. Inside are papers that will be filed in court next week linking the state's Senior US Senator to a complicated plan to funnel him money from a wealthy businessman to his wife.
It sounds like a scene from "All The Presidents Men". But unlike that movie which was based on real life, this scene is based upon a fantasy in Senator Norm Coleman's head if you believe the Managing Editor at the Star Tribune.
Friday, Senator Coleman accused the Star Tribune of having documents from the potentially politically damaging lawsuit long before they were actually filed in a Texas court.
Star Tribune Managing Editor Rene Sanchez says that is simply not true. Sanchez old MinnPost that "we did not get a copy of this lawsuit until it was filed Monday."
It was questions from the Star Tribune's investigative reporters earlier this week that tipped other media off to the story. At a campaign event in St. Cloud, Senator Coleman refused to answer or even acknowledge the reporters who asked him about the lawsuit and payments of $75,000 to his wife from a Texas company controlled by a wealthy Coleman supporter.
On Friday Coleman said the lawsuit, filed by Republican Paul McKim, was politically motivated and indicated it was the work of his opponent Al Franken calling it "sleazy" and "11th hour".
Lawyers in Minnesota who examined the lawsuit documents were reasonably sure politics was not the primary motivation in the lawsuit. Talk show host and lawyer Mark Heaney and election law specialist Christian Sande examined the documents on Heaney's show this week.
Heaney noted that the firm filing the lawsuit was a reputable one, and would probably not risk that reputation by being involved in a lawsuit that had no basis.
Sande commented that this was really a lawsuit about a fired CEO trying to obtain money from his former employer. Sande suggested the Coleman allegations were probably included in the suit to get the employer (Nasser Kazeminy) to settle it quickly.
That apparently worked since the suit was withdrawn very fast, indicating the two parties had reached a settlement. However, negotiations between the two reportedly broke down and a new fraud suit, identical to the first one, has been filed in Texas.
According to the Star Tribune, Franken spokeswoman Colleen Murray said no one associated with the Franken campaign had anything to do with bringing the lawsuit to light.
A Minneapolis attorney, Lori Peterson, started asking questions during Senator Coleman's news conference in Moorhead. She wanted to know if Kazeminy had purchased suits for Coleman at Neiman Marcus as reported by Harpers Weekly. Coleman then accused Peterson of being with the Franken campaign and left the room.
Peterson said she was a Democrat and was going to vote for Al Franken, but she was not with the Franken campaign.
Please note, The UpTake did not have a video camera following Senator Coleman's campaign to northwestern Minnesota. The DFL does have a camera following Coleman's campaign. This is what is commonly called a "tracker". The UpTake asked the DFL if it would provide us access to their video. The DFL provided The UpTake with a raw clip of the event so we could be sure nothing had been edited out.