POLITICS
04/16/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Norm Coleman Floated As RNC Chairman Despite Ethics Troubles

Politico's Mike Allen, in his daily Playbook, floats an interesting albeit somewhat implausible scenario with deep ramifications for the Republican Party. If embattled RNC chairman Michael Steele fails to raise a respectable amount of funds and continues to trip all over himself with rhetorical gaffes, a certain soon-to-be-former Senator is waiting in the wings to take over the post.

"WORD ON THE STREET: The next RNC chairman will be Norm Coleman, after he loses his recount fight and big donors see Michael Steele's March numbers."

Coleman does, in fact, seem poised to be officially out of the job soon (not counting his consulting gig for the Republican Jewish Coalition). The Minnesota Republican closed his case challenging the results of the Senate recount last week, but can appeal to state or federal court. He was, until a few months ago, set to head the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but had to drop that title to focus on his own election. At a very basic level, he's regarded as a well-seasoned fundraiser with conservative bonafides.

But there is one problem: Coleman is currently under FBI investigation. Indeed, word leaked only a few months ago that the FBI was looking into allegations that the former Senator's family received $75,000 in secret payments from longtime friend and benefactor. Those payments went unreported on Coleman's financial disclosure form, leading some congressional ethicist to draw parallels to the corruption case that ultimately felled former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Whether or not the RNC is willing to take Coleman in light of the ethical cloud hanging over his head would be a testament to just how poorly received Michael Steele has been. Though, to be fair, Republican operatives say Steele's job is secure, provided he raises a solid amount of money. That said, at least one Democrat is giddy about the Allen float, writing to the Huffington Post: "given all the facts is that really who the Republicans want as their champion right now."

UPDATE: The Coleman campaign is downplaying the idea that the former Senator would become RNC chairman and, in the process, affirming his support for Steele. Via the Hill:

"Senator Coleman believes that Chairman Steele is doing an exceptional job, is a strong voice and leader for the party," Coleman spokesman Tom Erickson said. "And, he looks forward to working with him to build the party when he returns to the United States Senate."