The full text of the letters ABM has sent to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics and to the FBI requesting an investigation is below the fold. For more information on the scandal, check out Eric Black’s story on MinnPost here.
Honorable Barbara Boxer
Honorable John Cornyn
Senate Select Committee on Ethics
Hart Building, 2nd & C Sts., NE
Washington, DC 20510
Re: Illegal Gifts to Sen. Coleman
Dear Messrs. Chairwoman and Vice Chairman:
This letter constitutes a complaint against Senator Norm Coleman pursuant to Rule 2 of the Rules of Procedure of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which authorizes any person to file a sworn complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee “alleging that any Senatorâ€¦has violated a law [or] the Senate Code of Office Conductâ€¦in the performance of his or her duty as a Memberâ€¦or has engaged in improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.” It has come to our attention that Senator Coleman may have violated Senate Rule 35 by accepting gifts totaling $75,000 in value, and failing to disclose said gifts in violation of Senate Rule 34 and the Ethics in Government Act, 5 U.S.C. app.101 et seq.
A recent civil complaint, sworn to under penalty of perjury, indicates that in May and June of 2007, a Texas businessman may have given $75,000 in payments to Senator Coleman, through his wife, Laurie Coleman. On October 27,2008, Paul McKim, the founder and CEO of Houston-based Deep Marine Technologies (“DMT”), filed a sworn, notarized complaint in Texas state court against a group of DMT directors. In his complaint, McKim alleged that a former controlling shareholder of DMT, Nasser Kazeminy, ordered McKim to transfer installments of $25,000 to Coleman. The payments were disguised as payments for insurance, and were made to his wife’s employer, the Hays Companies, an insurance broker in Minneapolis. Copies of the complaint and a news account describing the complaint are attached.
Kazeminy’s relationship with Senator Coleman has been well documented; in 2004 and 2005, for instance, Kazeminy provided Coleman and his family with a private plane for travel to Paris and the Bahamas, a reported value of almost seven thousand dollars for the two trips combined. More recently, it has been reported that Kazeminy also funded Coleman’s shopping sprees at Neiman Marcus; the dates and dollar amounts remain unknown, leaving in question whether those purchases violated Senate Rule 35.
Senate Rule 35 prohibits any member of the Senate from knowingly accepting a gift valued at $50 or more. Rule 35.1 (a)(1). A gift to a family member of a Member based on that individual’s relationship with the Member is considered a gift to the Member “if it is given with the knowledge and acquiescence of the Member” and the Member “has reason to believe the gift was given because of the official position of the Memberâ€¦.” Rule 35.1(b)(2)(A).
McKim’s sworn complaint alleges that DMT, at the behest of Kazeminy, made three payments of $25,000 to Hays Companies, and that these payments were intended to be transferred to Senator Coleman’s wife, for the purpose of financially assisting Senator Coleman. The Committee should investigate whether Senator Coleman or his wife received such a gift in violation of Senate Rule 35.
Failure to Disclose
Under the Ethics in Government Act and Senate Rule 34, Members of Congress must file an annual financial disclaimer report in which they disclose, inter alia, all gifts aggregating $250 or more, and all sources of income that exceed $200 in value. 5 U.S.C. app. 102(a)(2).
McKim’s signed, notarized complaint alleges that DMT made three payments of $25,000 to Coleman in May or June of 2007, by way of Hayes Companies. Senator Coleman did not report these payments in his 2008 financial disclosure report. The Committee should investigate whether Senator Coleman failed to report any gifts in violation of the Ethics in Government Act and Senate Rule 34.
As described above, Senator Coleman and his wife may have accepted and, subsequently, failed to report gifts worth $75,000. These actions constitute a potential ethical violation on the part of Senator Coleman, and deserve further investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. As the recent conviction of Senator Coleman’s colleague Senator Ted Stevens demonstrates, strict enforcement of the Senate’s gift rules is critical to maintaining the public trust. We request that the Committee undertake this investigation immediately.
Very truly yours,
Alliance for a Better Minnesota
Special Agent in Charge Ralph S. Boelter
Federal Bureau of Investigation
111 Washington Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Re: Nasser Kazeminy and Others
Dear SAC Boelter:
I write to request that you investigate allegations of fraud alleged under oath in a lawsuit filed on October 27, 2008, and refilled on October 30 in Harris County, Texas. Captioned McKim v. Kazeminy, et al. I write to you because many of the alleged fraudulent acts were allegedly committed by Minnesota residents and companies and were allegedly pursuant to a scheme to benefit one of Minnesota’s U.S. Senators, Norm Coleman.
The sworn complaint, a copy of which is enclosed, alleges that:
1. Nasser Kazeminy, a Minnesota resident, fraudulently ordered the payment of corporate funds from Texas to Minnesota to financially assist Senator Coleman.
2. Kazeminy directed that paperwork be created to make it appear that payments intended for Senator Coleman appeared to be legitimate transactions when, in fact, they were not.
3. Kazeminy used threats and intimidation to cause others to make $75,000 in payments to a Minnesota entity, Hays Companies, for the benefit of Senator Coleman, totaling $75,000. The scheme alleged is that money was to be funneled to Senator Coleman or his spouse through Hays Companies.
4. John Hudgens, a Minnesota resident under the influence of Kazeminy, directed the hiding or destruction of evidence of the fraudulent scheme.
If the allegations of the complaint are true, there is federal jurisdiction under the mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering statutes. Further the alleged scheme was purportedly to provide an unlawful benefit to a United States Senator. Obviously, it is an important matter to determine whether Senator Coleman had knowledge of the alleged scheme received benefits from it, and properly disclosed and accounted for what might be a substantial gift.
Finally, there have been published reports that Senator Coleman or his family received undisclosed gifts of clothing airfare, and other items of value from Mr. Kazeminy. I do not know whether such gifts were made and, if they were, they were made at a time when Senator Coleman was obligated to disclose them. We request that these matters be investigated also.
I request that you notify me if the Bureau undertakes a preliminary investigation. Thank you for your consideration.
Alliance for a Better Minnesota