POLITICS

Coleman Turns To Lawyer Representing His Major Benefactor

With his senatorial hopes hinging on a legal challenge to Minnesota's recount process, former Sen. Norm Coleman has reportedly turned to high-powered lawyer, Joe Friedberg, to handle his case.

The move may prove helpful for the Minnesota Republican as he seeks to successfully appeal the state canvassing board decision that ruled Al Franken the election winner by 225 votes. But the Freidberg hire does create a bit of an image problem for Coleman.

The list of clients that Freidberg represents includes Nasser Kazeminy, a major GOP donor and businessman who allegedly funneled $75,000 to Coleman's family. Kazeminy has been sued in Texas court for directing payments to the Senator's wife for the purpose of helping out the family financially, under the guise of insurance coverage. Coleman never reported this money on his ethics reports, and he may be under investigation by both the FBI and the Senate Ethics Committee.

That Coleman would turn to the same lawyer representing his benefactor doesn't appear to create a legal conflict of interest. But the optics -- a circle of well-connected and powerful officials doing legal and political deeds for one another -- are not great. Moreover, there are already questions swirling as to how Coleman, one of the Senate's least rich members, can afford the legal bills to mount his post-election legal challenges. By retaining a high-profile attorney who is already representing one of his chief donors, he will likely only add to the speculation.

Friedberg's role in Coleman's legal challenge came to light during a closed door meeting on Friday with attorneys for both campaigns and the three-judge panel overseeing the case, officials close to the election process tell the Huffington Post.