The FBI is reportedly investigating allegations that a Minnesota businessman tried to funnel $75,000 in campaign contributions to Sen. Norm Coleman through the senator's wife, Laurie, at the same time Coleman was going into debt because of extensive home renovations.
According to a report from MyFOXTwinCities.com, two lawsuits allege that in the spring of 2007, Nasser Kazeminy began making $25,000 payments from Deep Marine Technology, a Texas company he controls, to Laurie Coleman's employer, insurer Hayes Companies Inc. of Minneapolis.
One of the lawsuits alleges that in March 2007, Kazeminy said that "U.S. senators don't make s---," and he would try to get money to the senator, MyFOXTwinCities.com said.
In 2006, the Colemans began renovations on their St. Paul home, adding a second-floor master bedroom, remodeling the kitchen, painting, refinishing floors and landscaping. Coleman's campaign told MyFOXTwinCities.com that the 2006 renovation project was budgeted at $328,000, but within four months the cost estimates hit $414,000 -- over-budget by $86,000.
Government ethics professor David Schultz told MyFOXTwinCities.com that the timing of the alleged donations from Kazeminy and the Colemans' burgeoning debt raise questions about the senator's credibility.
"On the one level it could just be a coincidence, on the other level this could be one of the reasons he's getting that money from elsewhere, to try to make up for his, to be able to pay off a loan, pay off a line of credit," says Schultz.
Coleman, not a party to the lawsuits, has denied any wrongdoing.
He and Democratic challenger Al Franken are still waiting out a lengthy recount to determine the winner of the state's Senate election on Nov. 4.