Report questions investigation that cleared Norm Coleman benefactor

There’s no better example of the appearance of questionable ethics in politics than the once-brewing 2008 scandal in which a civil lawsuit claimed a Minnesota businessman tried to arrange a bribe to then-Sen. Norm Coleman by funeling money to a business employing Coleman’s wife.

Paul McKim, founder and former CEO of Houston-based Deep Marine Technology, claimed that Kazeminy pressured his company to make payments to Hays Companies – the employer of Laurie Coleman, who is a licensed insurance broker. Kazeminy and his companies are the single largest shareholder in Deep Marine Technology, the suit says.

McKim claims that Kazeminy told the company’s chief financial officer that “U.S. senators don’t make (expletive deleted),” and that he was going to use Deep Marine Technology to get money to Coleman. McKim said that when he objected, Kazeminy threatened to fire him, saying “this is my company,” and forced him to approve the first payment of $25,000 to Hays Companies.

Laurie and Norm Coleman in 2008. Photo: Minnesota Public Radio News/File.Coleman lost the election to Al Franken in a famous recount and a few months later — April 2009 — Deep Marine’s litigation committee said its eight-month investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing.

“This was nothing short of an effort to extort or blackmail people with lies,” said Kazeminy’s attorney at the time.

Kazeminy hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct his own investigation into the allegations.

“And we concluded after that investigation, that the allegations — particularly the allegation of the $100,000 payment — was baseless and false,” he said.

Freeh also declined to make the investigation public.

The Star Tribune reported at the time..

In his review of a previous investigation, Freeh said he was able to confirm that Kazeminy had given Coleman gifts over the years that totaled more than $100,000 in value. Those included at least two suits from Nieman Marcus in Minneapolis and flights to Florida on Kazeminy’s private jets. The gifts stretched back to the former senator’s terms as St. Paul mayor.

Ron Rosenbaum, a Minneapolis attorney serving as a spokesman for Kazeminy, said Freeh didn’t merely rely on Kazeminy’s version of events, but reviewed the previous investigation of the allegations, along with numerous documents.

“He went over everything,” Rosenbaum said.

“In criminal defense work, you don’t rely on your client’s word. Kazeminy wanted this investigated from top to bottom because he wanted a clean bill of health.

Case closed?

In an article today on how public officials have gotten rich since their public-service days, The Intercept notes that Freeh, who made a little over $100,000 as head of the FBI, now makes money doing investigations on his own. He and his wife now own four estates, a summerhouse worth $3 million in Vermont, a beachfront penthouse in Palm Beach worth another $3 million.

The deed shows that Freeh’s wife owns half of the penthouse. Kazeminy owns the other half.

“The quit claim deed giving Freeh’s wife one-half ownership of the penthouse was signed nine days after Freeh’s vindication of Kazeminy,” The Intercept says.

The Justice Department declined to prosecute, didn’t say it was even conducting an investigation, and, obviously, didn’t indicate how much it relied on the Freeh investigation — if at all — in making its decision.