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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

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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Class in Session -- Case Study: Norm Coleman: Politician

Category: Norm Coleman
Posted: 06/26/08 21:41, Edited: 06/26/08 21:44

by Dave Mindeman

Alright. Class in session. Your assignment today is to analyze the following bits of information and figure out what it all means. Pay close attention...I will be asking questions at the end.

First of all, several days ago, Politico did a survey of all Senators regarding their home mortgage status....because of the Countrywide controversy and the subsequent problems for Senators Dodd and Conrad.

They did this by phone and 70+ Senators responded the same day. Norm Coleman was not one of them. The article pointed out that the remaining Senators could furnish information later and it would be posted when available. Politico pointed out that under the Senate disclosure rules, no Senator was required to disclose details of their mortgage.

Norm did furnish details a few days later. You can see the story here and the detailed list here...everybody has weighed in now.

Norm Coleman's information detailed a mortgage on his Minnesota home with US Bank through a regular loan officer...and also this:

Coleman's office says the Senator has a mortgage on his home in Minnesota and rents his residence in Washington.

The renting part is interesting because Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press Political Animal blog outlines an interesting excerpt from a National Journal article about Coleman's Washington housing connection.

You are now instructed to read the National Journal article.

All done?

Now, early in the article Norm asks a legitimate question:

In separate interviews, Coleman and Larson said that their dealings were aboveboard. The senator said that the apartment deal he struck with Larson was appropriate, that Larson's wife was one of his best employees, and that Larson's telemarketing business provided "great services" to his campaign and PAC. "Where's the benefit for me? ... What do I get out of this?" Coleman asked.

Ok, class, anyone have an answer? Bueller? Bueller?

Norm kind of answered the question himself. What would be the one coup de grace for a Senator seeking re-election? The one thing in a presidential election year that only one state can have? The ultimate in high power free publicity and mingling with power brokers?

And I quote:

Coleman and Larson are also widely credited with persuading senior Republican leaders to select Minneapolis-St. Paul as the host for the GOP's national convention in September. Larson holds a prominent role as the unpaid CEO and chief fundraiser for the local host committee, a position that Coleman helped arrange. Additionally, Coleman took the lead in arranging a $50 million congressional appropriation for security at the Republican convention. Without that earmark, Larson and the host committee would have been required to raise the security funds privately.

There isn't something overtly wrong with that, except that the two of them worked like a tandem -- one watching the other's back. Norm wants the convention -- Larson has the connections. Larson needs funding -- Coleman finds the earmark. The ultimate in power politics.

Norm also gets something else:

Later, in a prepared statement, Coleman said he moved into Larson's town house in a belt-tightening move to cut his living expenses; his previous apartment in Washington cost him $1,780 a month. Coleman's Senate salary is $169,300.

Meanwhile, Larson said that the town house arrangement was not a favor to Coleman. "I am not trying to peddle influence or get more business out of him, curry favor with him," Larson said. He said he was "merely trying to meet my mortgage.... I was thrilled that it worked out for him." Larson also described Coleman's living arrangements: "He has one bedroom in the back. I was actually surprised [the bed] fits into it. Somehow, he jumps into it at night and has just a bathroom, sink, and small refrigerator." He said that the apartment does not even have a stove.

First of all, only a person being very careful about what he is saying would issue a prepared statement about rent. Secondly, he's renting from a guy described in this manner:

Connections, it (Larson's company) has. Larson and his longtime partner, Tony Feather, are close to the Bush White House. Republican operatives said that Feather is especially close to Karl Rove, the former senior White House adviser who masterminded both of George W. Bush's presidential campaigns. In the 2003-04 presidential election cycle, the Bush-Cheney campaign paid FLS Connect, then known by other names, nearly $7.6 million, FEC records show.

Interesting situation for a Senator trying to distance himself from the Bush White House.

And then class, there are these other questions:

1) Why would Larson's wife be working for the Coleman campaign under her maiden name? (A name, the article points out, she does not always use)

2) And why would she be suddenly leaving after the National Journal article asks questions about her?

3) Why were rent checks, not cashed, forgotten about, or traded for furniture? Exactly how does THAT appear on your 1040, Norm?

4) In March of 2007, Larson buys a $989,000 townhouse. In July of 2007, Norm Coleman moves in for $600 a month. Does anyone think the timing of all that is a little too convenient?

You know, class, you need to always be a little wary of any poltician who says things like what Norm Coleman says here:

He insisted that Larson hadn't given him a special deal.

Coleman and Larson have had a rather loose arrangement when it comes to the senator's monthly $600 rent payments.

Larson said that the town house arrangement was not a favor to Coleman. "I am not trying to peddle influence or get more business out of him, curry favor with him."

It's the old adage..."me thinks he doth protest too much!"

Well, class, you're assignment is to ponder these questions deeply and decide for yourselves where all of this might go.

Class dismissed.
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