Norm Coleman, the junior Republican senator from Minnesota, probably would like to focus solely on his recount battle with Al Franken these days. But it seems he has other problems to deal with as well:
The timing and cost of Sen. Norm Coleman's home renovation has again raised questions about allegations that an Edina, Minn. businessman funneled money to Norm Coleman's wife Laurie.
The FBI is now reportedly investigating the allegations that Nasser Kazeminy tried to funnel $75,000 in campaign contributions through the Senator's wife. By why would a U.S. Senator, who makes about $180,000 a year, need the money?
... The remodeled kitchen was the backdrop for some of the Senator's campaign commercials. FOX 9 learned the woman in charge of the project was Shari Wilsey, an interior designer. Wilsey, along with her husband Roger, are longtime friends of the Coleman's and financial contributors to the Senator's campaigns.
The Wilsey's even hosted a fundraiser for Senator Coleman during the Republican National Convention at their Summit Ave mansion, just blocks from the Coleman's.
Two lawsuits allege that in spring of 2007, Edina businessman Nasser Kazeminy began a series of $25,000 payments to Coleman from Deep Marine Technology, a company he controlled in Texas, to Hays Companies, the Minnesota Insurance company where Laurie Coleman works.
... While Coleman didn't agree to sit down for a interview, his campaign did agree to share billing records of the remodeling project. Original projections in 2006 estimated a cost of $328,000, but four months later, the construction cost was estimated at $414,000, over-budget by $86,000.
During that time is when, the lawsuit alleges, Kazeminy was trying to get money to Coleman.
According to the lawsuits, in March of 2007, Kazeminy said that "U.S. Senators don't make s---" and he was going to try to find a way to get money to Coleman.
You can see the Wilsey donations here.
It's noteworthy that Coleman is getting lawyered up to deal with this case. Obviously, he's taking it seriously.
It certainly looks like Coleman's pulling a Ted Stevens number with his home renovations -- getting refinanced for potentially more than the entire house is worth and getting a second story put on it. It will be entertaining to see what the FBI learns.
[H/t to Heather too.]