Friday, August 8, 2008

Al Fights Back

Al Franken is starting to hit back in the Minnesota Senate race.

Al is polling 9 points below Coleman but it still isn't Labor Day.

People now know who Al is, his bio, why he's in the race. It's time for a change. The above ad is the first ad of the new strategy. Coleman's been negative on Al for a while. Time for Al to go negative in return.

The Minnesota Senate race is totally winnable.

Coleman's yet another corrupt Republican currently under investigation.

Here is the nonprofit CREW legal watchdog group:

CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics asking for an investigation into whether Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) violated the Senate gifts rule by accepting lodging from Republican operative Jeff Larson.

According to National Journal, in July 2007, Sen. Coleman began paying Mr. Larson $600 per month to rent a portion of a basement apartment in a Capitol Hill townhouse owned by Mr. Larson. After the magazine began making inquiries about the senator’s living arrangement, Sen. Coleman “discovered” that he had failed to pay rent in November 2007 and January 2008, and his wife gave Mr. Larson a personal check for the $1,200. Last year, Sen. Coleman sold Mr. Larson some furniture -- a couch, table and chairs and a desk -- to cover one month’s rent, and Mr. Larson held onto Sen. Coleman’s March rent check for three months, until June 17, before cashing it only days after National Journal began asking questions.

Mr. Larson runs the telemarketing firm FLS Connect, which has been paid over a million dollars by Sen. Coleman’s campaign committees and leadership PAC since 2001. Mr. Larson is also the PAC’s treasurer and FLS has been providing it with office space in St. Paul. In addition, Mr. Larson’s wife, Dorene Kainz, has been working in Sen. Coleman’s St. Paul office, but after National Journal asked about her position, Sen. Coleman’s office announced that she would soon be leaving the office.

The Senate gifts rule generally prohibits members and staff from accepting gifts, but has two exceptions under which they may accept lodging: if based on personal friendship or, as long as the giver is not a lobbyist or foreign agent, if the gift constitutes personal hospitality. Because the relationship between Sen. Coleman and Mr. Larson appears to be more business than personal, the gift would not be permitted under the “personal friendship” exception. Because Mr. Larson does not live in the townhouse, but rents it out to others, he is not hosting Sen. Coleman and “the personal hospitality” exception would not apply.

CREW is asking the Senate Ethics Committee to look into whether or not Sen. Coleman is paying fair market value for the apartment, whether Sen. Coleman would have paid the November 2007 and January 2008 rent had National Journal not raised the non-payment as an issue, whether Sen. Coleman and Mr. Larson had agreed that Mr. Larson would not cash the March 2008 rent check, why Sen. Coleman suddenly made up his back rent after National Journal asked questions about it, and why Sen. Coleman’s office announced that Ms. Kainz would be leaving the senator’s employ after National Journal asked about her role.

CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “Few Americans have landlords who sometimes fail to cash their rent checks, ignore unpaid rent, or accept furniture in lieu of rent. That Sen. Coleman has just such a landlord, who also happens to financially benefit from his relationship with the senator creates exactly the sort of appearance of impropriety that undermines the public’s faith in government.” Sloan continued, “Senators must abide by the ethics rules at all times, not just when they get caught flouting them.”
CREW: Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Letter: Coleman is not living in substandard conditions

I saw Norm Coleman on television practicing his “Humble is my Middle Name” spin. He modestly bragged that he is saving money by living in an inexpensive little basement rather then blowing a wad on posh digs like all the other high-rolling, spendthrift senators. You got the impression Coleman is a self-sacrificing, average Joe, living in some unbearably dark, dingy little hole-in-the-wall.

Reality; Coleman rents a huge English basement in a million-dollar town house on Capitol Hill for $600 a month. Similar market-value rents are double or triple, according to a watchdog group. Coleman either does not pay rent or pays it in used furniture, which the “landlord” lets Coleman keep.

You have to rather admire the spin masters who have the guts to turn a violation of Senate ethics into a blurb on frugality and humility. Marketing moguls call this “Re-Framing.” Monty Python would refer to this as the “Dead Parrot Defense.” Little Johnnie Howard, ex-Prime Mister of Australia, would call it “noncore promises.” Those of us who were raised on old-fashioned ethics call it dishonesty.

Our economic situations might improve if we could reframe criminal acts and shady deals, but I’m betting that the real average Joe would never get away with it.

Coleman’s “landlord” is a powerful Republican operative in Washington.

According to reports, Coleman has done more than $1.5 million worth of business with this “landlord’s” St. Paul telemarketing firm. Coleman employs the wife of this “landlord,” under her maiden name. That’s a whole lot of cozy back scratching.

IOIYAR: It's Okay If You're A Republican.

Or... not.

h/t MyDD.