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Coleman Spokesman Humiliated During Press Conference

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For the second day in a row, Norm Coleman's Senate campaign tripped all over itself when trying to explain reports that the Minnesota Republican had lavish clothing bought on his behalf by a wealthy businessman and prominent GOP donor.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Cullen Sheehan, Coleman's campaign manager, literally refused to answer the yes or no question, repeating nine times: Coleman "reported every gift he has ever received."

Here is a portion of the transcript (the rest of which is below):

REPORTER: On a different subject is there a reason that the Senator won't say whether or not someone else bought some suits for him.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: Rachel, the Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: That wasn't my question, Cullen.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received. We are not going to respond to unnamed sources on a blog.

REPORTER: So Senator Coleman's friend has not bought these suits for him? Is that correct?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: Why would say that? Why wouldn't you give us an answer yes or no on that?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has recorded every gift he has ever received.

The obfuscation would be comical if not for the incredible damage it has done to the Coleman campaign. Revelations that the Senator had received the clothing gifts from Minnesota businessman Nasser Kazeminy emerged earlier this week in a posting by Harpers Magazine. Coleman offered what amounted to a non-denial denial when asked about the matter, blaming the entire episode on the vitriol of the blogosphere.

The problem, however, is that the issue fits into a bigger meme: mainly, that Coleman has often played a bit loose with ethics laws in order to repeat the superficial benefits of power. As the Huffington Post reported, Coleman has received discounts on his apartment rent, his utilities bill, and private travel as well. In addition, as Harpers reported, Coleman's wife, Laurie, has been employed by Minneapolis-based Hays Companies, a risk management firm that has donated thousands to the Senator's campaigns. Laurie, an aspiring actress, has no background in risk management.

HERE IS THE FULL TRANSCRIPT OF WEDNESDAY'S PRESS CONFERENCE

REPORTER: On a different subject is there a reason that the Senator won't say whether or not someone else bought some suits for him.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: Rachel, the Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: That wasn't my question, Cullen.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received. We are not going to respond to unnamed sources on a blog.

REPORTER: So Senator Coleman's friend has not bought these suits for him? Is that correct?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: Why would say that? Why wouldn't you give us an answer yes or no on that?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has recorded every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: We haven't asked whether he has recorded every gift he has ever received and I will take his word that he has recorded every gift he has received. Has he ever received a gift of suits?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: If the answer is no, then why don't you say no.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: He has reported every gift he has ever received, Rachel.

REPORTER: What about Laurie, Mrs. Coleman's job at Hays Company? Do you know what she did there?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: Again they have disclosed everything they need to disclose on the Senate ethics forms.

REPORTER: So the Senator will only go according to the Senate ethics laws or rules rather than answer questions?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: He has done everything that he is required to do, Rachel.

REPORTER: That is not my question, Cullen.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: But that is my response.

REPORTER: Senator Coleman has talked a lot about campaign finance and transparency. He'll repeat that transparency - transparency - that's what you need to have. If there are questions about whether he was a recipient of some very expensive suits and whether those they were gifted to him in an appropriate way - why not just clear it all up because it is very unclear to us?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: He does that every year as a United States Senator on his Senate disclosure forms.

REPORTER: And will we find information about clothing on those forms?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: If it exceeds a gift limit, yes.

REPORTER: So is it possible that he received these suits and it was below gift level.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: It is a little puzzling Cullen why you won't say whether or not he received these gifts and I understand that you don't have respond to everything on the blogs but you are getting questions from reporters and I don't see why you aren't answering them. Can you explain that a little to me?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: Rachel, we are not going to respond to unnamed sources on blogs. That is what we are going to do from now until election is over. The Senator has disclosed everything that he is required to disclose and recorded everything that he is required to record.

REPORTER: But Cullen if the Senator did nothing wrong here and that is what you are saying then just tell us that and the issue will go away.

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: Did the Senator done something wrong here?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: The Senator has done nothing wrong and reported every gift he has ever received.

REPORTER: And you don't know what Mrs. Coleman did for Hays Companies?

CULLEN SHEEHAN: And again whatever has been required to be disclosed about her income and what she does has been disclosed.