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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Norm Coleman: Wasted Opportunities For PCI Investigations

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 06/28/08 09:36

by Dave Mindeman

Here is another in the series of things that get glossed over when discussing Norm Coleman's record.

On Norm's campaign website he claims:

Through his role as former Chairman and current Ranking Member of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), Senator Coleman has demonstrated his commitment to government oversight, aggressively cracking down on government waste, fraud, and abuse, protecting consumers, and strengthening our homeland security.

When he was chairman of that committee prior to the Democratic takeover starting in 2007, his most public investigation was the Oil for Food (OFF) scandal. He investigated the United Nations (and mostly Member of the British Parliament, George Galloway) and called for the resignation of Kofi Annan.

Yet, he ignored an even larger problem that was going on here in the United States.

From the UK Guardian, May 17, 2005:

In fact, the Senate (Democratic Minority) report found that US oil purchases accounted for 52% of the kickbacks paid to the regime in return for sales of cheap oil - more than the rest of the world put together.

"The United States was not only aware of Iraqi oil sales which violated UN sanctions and provided the bulk of the illicit money Saddam Hussein obtained from circumventing UN sanctions," the report said. "On occasion, the United States actually facilitated the illicit oil sales.

While Norm used the Galloway hearings as a public charade against the United Nations...he never called a single hearing about the US companies that accounted for more than half of the illegal money going to Saddam Hussein.

Another problem from the same report and the same issue:

In its second main finding, the report said the US military and the state department gave a tacit green light for shipments of nearly 8m barrels of oil bought by Jordan, a vital American ally, entirely outside the UN-monitored Oil For Food system. Jordan was permitted to buy some oil directly under strict conditions but these purchases appeared to be under the counter.

The US simply looked the other way while Jordan purchased oil from Hussein's Iraq, despite the embargo. Senator Coleman had an opportunity to look into that also, but did not.

Why isn't Norm Coleman held accountable for that?

There are, as many liberal blogs have pointed out, countless other items of waste, fraud, and abuse of power that were interwoven within the Bush administration. But none of that ever drew the attention of the PCI Chair, Norm Coleman.

What kind of government oversight is that?
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Norm Coleman: More Info On Norm's DC Digs

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 06/27/08 19:58, Edited: 06/28/08 17:36

by Dave Mindeman

There is a commenter on the TPM Muckraker blog who is talking about the Coleman/Larson "living arrangements" in interesting detail.

Some of the more interesting ones are listed below:

1) He appears to have copied the public records on Larson's townhouse (items in bold are my emphasis):

As for the DC townhouse, well, Mr. Larson is claiming a DC Homestead credit but lists his mailing address as Wisconsin. If Mr. Larson does not live in this house (or if he or his wife are not registered DC voters) then he's breaking the law.

(Information available through free DC Government online public records)
SSL: 0734 0085

Record Details
Neighborhood: CAPITOL HILL Sub-Neighborhood: A
Use Code: 24 - Residential-Conversions-Less t Class 3 Exception: No
Tax Type: TX - Taxable Tax Class: 001 - Residential
Homestead Status: ** Currently receiving the Homestead Deduction*.
Gross Building Area: Ward: 6
Land Area: 2,069 Triennial Group: 2

Owner and Sales Information
Mailing Address: PO BOX 1324; HUDSON WI54016-5324
Sale Price: $989,900
Sale Date: 03/20/2007
Instrument No.: 38551

(Larson's mortgage is from Wells Fargo)

UPDATE: Open Secrets lists a campaign contribution from Jeff Larson to Norm Coleman on 12/6/2007 for $1,000. The address listed on the donation is Oakdale, MN 55128.

2) Here is the real estate listing for the property:

Here's how realtor Phyllis Jane Young described the property in her listing:

rare opportunity on one of Capitol Hill's most historic Grand Avenues, mere steps from the U.S. Capitol, the DNC, the RNC and the House office buildings, this classic bay front beauty combines sweeping entertaining space with truly exceptional family living!
An enormous living room gracefully flows into the banquet-sized dining room, both dazzled with sunshine and warmed by heart pine floors, fabulous custom moldings, and a stunning wood burning fireplace.

The chef's kitchen, a caterer's dream with its sleek stainless alliances and acres of counter, strolls out to a delightful back porch, a deep private garden, and that ultimate Capitol Hill amenity, a GARAGE!

Upstairs, the delicious master suite features a custom Italian marble bath, and two additional bedrooms (one with a private porch) and second bath are off a sky lit gallery-style hallway, beautifully lit with alabaster fixtures.

Downstairs, a huge English basement with a media center, office space, gorgeous custom marble and oak bar, plus an airy guest bedroom and bath. (A C of O allows you the flexibility of an income unit).

Simply divine!

The commenter explains the C of O reference:

(In DC-parlance, CofO means that the city has certified the apartment is seperate from the house and has its own amenities and electical meter. Most "apartments" on Capitol Hill do not have this feature - and is MUCH sought after)

Granted...realtors can make anything sound like great digs...but this hardly sounds like the 10 X 10 "prison" cell that Senator Coleman describes in the article.

3) The commenter re-emphasizes his point that Larson does not "homestead" the apartment by quoting from the National Journal article:

It appears as though Mr. Larson is a tax cheat, because, according to the article, Larson does not occupy that residence:

As it turned out, he said, he decided to rent a portion of the basement apartment to Coleman and the top two floors to Rich Beeson, an FLS Connect partner who is on an unpaid leave of absence while serving as the RNC's political director. Both Larson and Beeson declined to say how much rent Beeson and his family are paying, except to say that it was "fair market value."

Now, I know these are merely comments on another blog site, but the commenter seems to know a great deal about DC real estate and makes some very valid points which I would sure like to see someone look into.

Just thought I'd put in an FYI.

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Coleman Article: No Taxpayer Dollars Involved? INCORRECT!

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 06/27/08 14:22

by Dave Mindeman

I have been watching how the MSM (main street media) are handling the National Journal article about Senator Coleman. In this post, I want to point out one thing.

David Brauer, over at Minnpost, does a kind of short issue composite of the days stories (big and small), called the Daily Glean. I read his items pretty much every day. It is always a very good read.

Here is what he said about the Coleman article:

Riffing off a National Journal story, the PiPress's Rachel Stassen-Berger explores the close ties between U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman and his campaign svengali, Jeff Larson. Coleman employed Larson's wife; Larson rents his Capitol Hill basement ? with 10-foot-square bedroom ? to Coleman ... who apparently doesn't always pay his rent on time. Both men say there's nothing improper; Larson isn't a lobbyist and no taxpayer bucks are involved. The backscratching looks weird but the Journal finds no impropriety.

I think the jury may still be out on impropriety...but it is incorrect to say that NO taxpayer bucks are involved.

To quote the National Journal article again:

Without the help of Congress--and, specifically, Coleman--the host committee would be facing an even bigger fundraising challenge. In December, Coleman spearheaded the successful effort to give St. Paul $50 million in federal funds for convention security. Under its agreement with the city, Larson's host committee would have been required to raise the security money if Congress had not acted.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a staunch opponent of earmarks, objected last year to the appropriations for both parties' conventions. In a recent interview with National Journal, he said that the money would indirectly subsidize "lavish" parties for politicians and amounted to an "economic development grant" to the host cities. "We just charged $100 million to our grandchildren," he declared.

Coleman took a load off of Larson's back by getting that $50 million allocated (that IS taxpayer funds) -- in order to get the votes for passage, he had to add $50 million for the Democratic convention. Normally, in the past, I understand that the Convention Committees usually raise their own money for this in conjunction with the host city. Senator Coburn (a Republican) -- the earmark watchdog in the Senate -- was not convinced of the need.

Secondly, taxpayer funds were also used to hire Mr. Larson's wife, Dorene Kainz, to work in Coleman's St. Paul office. I doubt that the $100,000+ paid to her during her tenure there came out of Senator Coleman's budget challenged pocket.

So, as I will point out in a future post, the Coleman issue is not coming under the same scrutiny as the Republican charges against Franken -- and no taxpayer dollars are involved in any of Franken's issues.
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