Coleman suitgate roundup: Those suits didn't come from K-Mart
Sen. Norm Coleman can't seem to escape this simple question about who buys his suits. The controversy started earlier this week and unfortunately we still have to report about it because he won't end it by answering a really simple question. Could this taint his campaign? We think it already has.
The big question? Whether Coleman's wealthy buddy and investment executive Nasser Kazeminy bought clothes for him at Neiman Marcus. For the Coleman and the campaign's previous non-answers, check the previous Blotter posts.
Now that the whole Minnesota and political blogosphere is on the story as well as the local media, here is a suitgate roundup on the latest chatter out there.
Kevin Duchschere wrote a blog post on the Star Tribune's Big Question and questions how Coleman could've gotten away with the gift without disclosing it in his documents:
If Kazeminy bought clothes for Coleman before he entered the Senate in 2003, it wouldn't be an ethics problem. Since then, it's true that some suits -- if any were bought -- might sneak in under the Senate gift limit, but they would probably have to come off the rack at K-Mart. Gifts to senators of $250 or more from friends are banned unless first approved by the Senate Ethics Committee.
You can check out the ethics gift rules here.
After Coleman's campaign drilled in our heads that he has reported every gift he has received, Rachel Stassen-Berger of the Pioneer Press compiled a list of the gifts he disclosed:
A trip on Kazimeny's private plane in 2005 for himself and his daughter. Cost: $3,960
A trip on Kazimeny's private plane in 2004 for himself and his wife. Cost: $2,870
A trip on Richard Burke's private plane for himself and his father. $726
And the Daily Kos reminds us that other politicians have been busted for similar gifts. This story sounds a little too close for Coleman's comfort:
The Senate Select Committee on Ethics issued one of its sternest rebukes in recent years when it "severely admonished" Sen. Bob Torricelli (D-N.J.) for accepting expensive gifts from a political donor-turned-convict.
In a three-page judgment, the panel chastised Torricelli for allowing businessman David Chang--a friend who later was convicted of illegally siphoning money into the senator's campaign--to provide him with personal gifts that some have called bribes. According to Chang, these "gifts" included cash, Italian-made suits, a 52-inch television and an $8,000 Rolex watch.