Thursday, December 11, 2008

Franken-Coleman Recount Drama Continues

So does the Coleman Corruption Investigation

First off, I apologize for not providing more timely updates about the still-in-limbo Minnesota Senate election. It’s not for lack of news coverage as the story of the ballot recount has dominated Minnesota’s media. (My only sorry excuse is that I remain occupied trying to better expose the truth about the ongoing “war on dissent” involved in the continuing prosecutions persecutions of 800 plus arrested protesters that’s also occurring here in the aftermath of the RNC.)

In any event, the CBS News Report below provides a good summary of the current situation.

The reporter concludes that a flip of the coin may ultimately determine who wins which would probably be the fitting paradoxical end to this, the most expensive and bizarre race in Minnesota history. But what’s most likely ahead for the recount? Well the Canvassing Board meets (today) Friday Dec. 12 to decide on the fate of rejected absentee ballots as well as figure out what to do about 133 missing ballots in Minneapolis, and 12 uncounted absentee ballots from Hennepin County found during the search for those 133 missing ballots.

You probably don’t need all the detail that this blogger provides, but he’s undoubtedly right that “the pile of improperly rejected absentee ballots will prove the most consequential decision.” There are apparently somewhere from 700 to 1000 absentee ballots that were improperly rejected and Franken’s Campaign has identified some especially compelling reasons for counting their votes.

With the margin so thin, these absentee ballots seem crucial to determining the outcome so this is where any decision is most likely to end up being challenged in court.

But Norm Coleman might end up in court—criminal court—on an entirely different matter. He’s reportedly being investigated by the FBI in connection with allegations that his longtime friend, benefactor (and suit buyer) Nasser Kazeminy tried to steer him money. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the FBI has begun to contact people in Texas where the first of two lawsuits was filed alleging Kazeminy, a Bloomington financier, tried to steer $100,000 to Coleman via his wife's Minneapolis employer. The second suit, filed in Delaware, alleges Kazeminy initially tried to get money directly to the senator. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW—what a quaint, quixotic pursuit these days!—if only some responsibility and ethics in Washington, Chicago, or anywhere could be found in the pervasive and tangled “pay to play” culture of corruption, huh?) has the full background on Coleman’s latest legal troubles here.

As an aside, I happened to be talking on the phone today to a former FBI agent friend who retired out of the Chicago Office. We had to agree that we’re actually rather proud of the good job our old agency, the FBI’s been doing on the public corruption stuff—not only the new investigation launched of Norm Coleman but also the recent ones of Alaskan Ted Stevens; William “Cold Cash” Jefferson; and Rod “Pay to Play” Blagojevich. It’s going to be hard to make a dent in the thick culture of corruption that has encompassed the seats of power in this country though.

Back in 2006 I suggested it might be time for the FBI to get another “ABSCAM” undercover operation up and running as it’s obvious from the number of crooked politicians, that the deterrent effect of the last one (1978-80) has certainly worn off.


  1. Thanks for the very excellent post, Coleen. Don'cha hate it when Democrats like Rod “Pay to Play” Blagojevich and William “The Cash Is in the Freezer” Jefferson behave like Republicans? The difference, of course, is that the GOP circles the wagons and drops the curtains around malfeasance when it occurs on their side of the aisle. Democrats are piling on their bad guys, trying to run them out of town on a rail.

  2. I'm totally non-partisan when it comes to fighting corruption. Just like CREW. Like Patrick Fitzgerald. Like the FBI. To their credit, the FBI has long recognized that the pernicious problem of public corruption undercuts the strength of our country and is a danger to our national security as much as any thug terrorist. The FBI, again to its credit, has kept public corruption as a priority alongside terrorism.

    Lord "Power Corrupts" Acton was no dummy. I guess he probably leaned Democrat in that respect, huh? :)

    Ironically, one of the reasons I was initially impressed by Senate Candidate Al Franken--long before he became a candidate--came from his efforts to expose the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal which also involved Grover Norquist, Michael Scanlon and "Christian Coalition" Director Ralph Reed. In hearing him speak repeatedly on this topic, I got the impression that Franken was the real deal when it came to his knowledge and understanding of the need to end the "culture of corruption" in government.

  3. I forgot to mention that you picked a good photo of Norm Coleman. It's one of the rare ones that doesn't show his bright white (fake) teeth which there were earlier media reports about--that he got all the dental work for free somehow as his political career took off.

    As they say, it's a slippery slope.

  4. Franken versus Coleman, huh? I hate to say this, guys, but I think I might have opted for that 3rd option. Either that or write the name of Mighty Mouse in bold print and leave the auditorium laughing.

  5. Although he got 15% or like that (if I remember right), the 3rd Choice Dean Barkley wasn't worth a wasted vote in favor of 3rd parties. If one's track record matters as opposed to talk which is cheap. Barkley promptly became a tobacco lobbyist after being appointed by MN Governor Jesse Ventura to serve out the remainder of Paul Wellstone's term. I think he also had a nervous breakdown and his wife left him after his temporary stint as MN Senator. Barkley's not a bad guy and it does point out the pitfalls and pressures of the job, but just not worth wasting a vote over.

    The funny thing is they did a poll recently--long after we knew how close it would be between Coleman and Franken--and the same 15% who voted for 3rd Party Candidate Barkley said they would still do the same thing.

    The state canvassing board decisions today went in favor of Franken so there's still hope for him to be elected.

  6. Thank you, Colleen. Your posts are always so enlightening. I agree with you: corruption doesn't die at party lines, as Vig noted. I've been going on line to the Minnesota Star Tribune—daily rooting for Franken.

    I read on one conservative blogs that more Democrats lie and cheat than Republicans. Huh? Last year, I lost count of all the crooked conservatives. I guess we can now add Coleman to the list.

    I love the title to this latest article: "Senate recount: 133 + 5 ÷ 87 = 1 big muddle." I'm encouraged: A state panel's haggling over 133 stray Minneapolis votes and previously rejected absentee ballots in all 87 counties fell to Al Franken's favor.

    I used to listen to Franken religiously on Air America, and, like you, believe Franken is the "real deal." I am just hoping the votes will swing his way. The Senate needs him.

  7. Rosa Brooks writes, Never mind Blagojevich.

    In our heads, we Democrats know that. It's just that in our hearts, we don't want to believe it. Because we're the good guys, right? The ones who honed our progressive values during years in the political wilderness and who finally saw those values vindicated in November's electoral victories.

    But it's precisely when a party achieves power that its members need to start worrying the most about idiocy and greed. When you're in the opposition, you're already down and out, so what difference does it make if your side's idiocy leaves you -- temporarily -- a little bit more down and out? And being in the opposition offers fewer patronage opportunities.

    But power really does corrupt.

    I'm not predicting a rash of new Blagojevich-type scandals plaguing the new administration. The Obama transition team has already issued unusually stringent ethics rules, and Obama's track record of supporting tough ethics legislation (including an Illinois state ethics law) suggests that he'll continue such efforts as president.

    But illegal corruption isn't the only thing Democrats should be on guard against. Gaining political power also corrupts in far more subtle ways.

    Members of political majorities succumb easily to smugness and complacency, to the conviction that explaining and justifying ideas is no longer necessary, to the temptation to dismiss critics as so many irrelevant cranks. "Groupthink" is mainly a disease of the powerful and complacent, not the fractious opposition.

    ..... Majorities can get very dumb indeed -- and what the new Democratic majority most needs to resist are those more subtle forms of intellectual and moral laziness and corruption. For in the end, arrogance and groupthink can prove far more lethal than even the most scandalous financial shenanigans.

    Just ask the thousands dead in Iraq.

    Go Franken!

  8. Thank you, Ms. Rowley. We appreciate your work here in Minnesota.

  9. MacDaddy, no doubt about it, Agent Rowley is a hero for all of us throughout the country. I should add, Daddy, I also feel your own career has been of great service to your community.

    Coleen, thanks for picking up the slack for me. The 3rd Leg of the VORG has started, causing my AWOL status. (I am currently in 9,771st place, out of 95,633 "virtual racers".)

    On The governor of Illinois. (I cannot pronounce or spell his name), I think the worst case scenario is that he ups & appoints a Republican just to spite all of us Democrats. He could do this before he is neutered by the State Attorney-General? No? Is there anything written on this?

    Thanks for that link, Stella!

  10. New Contest: Pundit-of-the-Month for January opens: Name the next person sworn in as Senator from Illinois!

  11. I did not know that Franken was working to expose Abramoff et al. Even though I don't like him personally this fact alone raises my level of respect. I was also pleased to see that the board ruled in his favor. Go Al!

  12. The recount continues, and continues, and continues... AP Predicts Gains for Franken

    The Minnesota Secretary of State website now shows Coleman with a 188-vote lead. If the AP’s 200-vote-swing prediction is at all accurate, the challenged ballots could easily be the difference-maker in the race. And then of course there are all those absentee ballots that were improperly rejected but now seem likely to be counted. The Franken campaign is confident that it stands to gain from these ballots; that’s why it pushed so hard to have them included.

    Here's hoping the AP is on target.

  13. Looks more and more like Norm was a little compromised himself.

    Ain't THAT a shocker.

  14. From one of The Vigil's Franken fans...

    Franken poised to win—by 89 votes...

  15. Stella, how can it be that Vigil is missing out on this?

  16. Was the AP right? That Franken will win?

    DB, I've been following this story daily. This is one of the most interesting senatorial races I've followed.

    Besides, I like Al. Hope you had a good holiday, DB.

  17. Yes, Christmas is still incomplete. There remains one more present to be unwrapped.

  18. I'm on Al Franken's email list, and just can't stop keeping my eye on this election. So, I just want to share this with everyone. Vig's "last president?" Something Good?

    Mine? Boot Warren from the inauguration.
    Today I've got good news to report: it looks like we're on track to win. The state canvassing board has completed its job of reviewing all the ballots - and at the end of this important step in the process, we're ahead.
    Minneapolis Star Tribune, which contained the following disgusting quote in response to Franken's possible victory: All the democrates know how to do is cheat. Looks like we are going to have a jew senator and a negro president, both elkected under flase pretinses. I am so scaired for our country. Can't spell, poor grammar, hateful comments... Yep! Must be a bigot.

    News at Al Franken for Senate