Monday, June 30, 2008

It's Good To Have Friends

I always kind of liked Norm Coleman as Mayor of St Paul. He's was a fiscal conservative with progressive tendencies. Political expedience saw him switch sides and the realities of caucus politics have him voting more consistently with GWB than I'd like. Still and all, he's hardly a red-meat true-believer.

That's why it was disappointing to see this story.
Luckily, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) has found a cheap place to crash when
he's working inside the beltway -- renting an apartment from Republican
operative and
"robo-call" expert Jeff Larson. Larson and his wife bought the townhouse on Capitol Hill in March 2007 for $989,900, according to National
Journal.Coleman pays just $600 a month for a one-bedroom place in a Capitol
Hill townhouse.

That's remarkably cheap for the neighborhood, and a fraction of the
$1,780 monthly rent Coleman paid on the Washington apartment he left in June
2007, according to a
report this week from the National Journal.

Lobbyists and Congressmen are like sharks and remoras without the clear distinction between predator and parasite.
Larson's St. Paul-based company, FLS Connect, is a critical component of
Coleman's political operation. The firm, which has raised money and hustled up
voters for Coleman, has been paid about $1.6 million since mid-2001 by Coleman's
Northstar Leadership political action committee and two Senate campaigns,
according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Larson serves
as the PAC's treasurer and provides it with office space in St. Paul; Coleman's
Senate campaign stopped renting space from Larson last year.

It looks like business as usual for another former maverick. Why does Coleman's relationship with Larson leave the taste of copper in my mouth?
FLS Connect is a go-to shop for the Republicans nationwide for fund raising and providing "robo-calls." In fact, the firm was targeted by the attorney general in Indiana for violating that state's automated call laws. The firm is also linked
to The DCI Group
, a lobbying firm that came under scrutiny for its work in
and its ties to the John McCain campaign. They're known for "Astroturf" organizing as well as robo-calls.

And, sadly, there's no reason to think that Norm might disapprove of Larson's activities.
Larson will get no argument on that score from his wife, Dorene Kainz, who
went to work for the senator in September 2005 handling requests from Coleman's constituents in his St. Paul office. Senate records show that she has been paid
$101,218 through March 31.

Business as usual. Norm saw the opportunities that were being provided to Republicans in Washington and grabbed the brass ring. I'll bet he couldn't find many places for rent for $600 a month in his home district.

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