As Norm Coleman struggles in what appears to be a losing battle to reclaim his Senate seat, and as faint rumors spread that he could replace Michael Steele as RNC Chair, a cloud of ethics scandal continues to gather over his head.
On Thursday, the former Minnesota Senator refused to say whether or not the FBI had contacted him over allegations that he and his wife had accepted (and failed to report) $75,000 in payments from a longtime benefactor. It was, close observers of the case note, the first time that Coleman has failed to deny being contacted by investigators.
"I can¹t say anything," he told the MinnPost, after being asked if the FBI had contacted him. "We want this matter to be fully reviewed and fully investigated because nothing happened and we are looking forward to that taking place."
Indeed, in the past staffers to Coleman have publicly insisted that the Senator had "not been contacted by any law enforcement or investigative authority on this matter." In his conversation with the MinnPost he merely, as the paper noted, "smiled and shrugged his shoulders."
"There have never been any allegations that either my wife or I have done anything wrong," he said of the substantive matters of the case. "There are allegations between businessmen about a business dispute. But there has never been a single allegation that me or my wife have done anything wrong and we haven't."
Coleman's involvement in the case is, indeed, on the periphery -- he is not a defendant. But that doesn't make the allegations against him any less serious. As it stands, officials at a Texas company said they were told to send three payments of $25,000 to Coleman's wife as a means of helping the family with its finances. The payments, directed by longtime Coleman friend and businessman Nasser Kazeminy, were distributed under the guise of insurance purchases from Laurie Coleman's company. But they went seemingly unreported on then-Sen. Coleman's personal financial disclosure report, which could represent a violation of Senate ethics law.