Sen. Norm Coleman announced on Thursday that he was dropping his bid to become the next chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee -- a position he had coveted for several years.
The move, his office said, was done so that the Minnesota Republican could focus on his recount campaign against Al Franken, in which Coleman has a scant 206 vote lead.
"Sen. Coleman has chosen to step back and focus his efforts on the recount. Going forward, he gives his full support to Sen. Cornyn," said his spokesman LeRoy Coleman (of no relation).
But there is a more nefarious reading one could take away from the announcement. Coleman's main competition for the NRSC post -- the individual who stood the most to gain from Coleman dropping his bid -- was Sen. John Cornyn.
The Texas Republican, in addition to being the likely future head of GOP Senate campaigning, is also the Republican chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics. And Coleman, currently, has a potentially damaging ethics-violation allegation starring him in the face.
Two lawsuits -- one in Texas the other in Delaware -- allege that the Senator and his wife took $75,000 in payments from a GOP benefactor that they failed to report on their personal financial disclosure form.
The ethics committee has already been urged to look into the allegation -- which Coleman denies -- by the good government group Alliance for a Better Minnesota. And a Democratic aide on the committee says that it is policy to look into any grievance that has been sent their way.
"Anytime the Senate Ethics Committee gets a complaint," she said, "we take a look at it."
Additionally, ethics lawyers who have followed the issue say that, should Coleman be reelected, he would more than likely be investigated by Congress. The allegation leveled at him, after all, is markedly similar to charges made (and proved) against Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
Only now, the Republican chair who may oversee that investigation is the same individual whose path to the top of the NRSC Coleman just paved.
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