By Doug Grow | 06/14/11
You have to wonder if this is what businessman Nasser Kazeminy and former U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman really had in mind.
Yes, two attorneys representing Kazeminy held a news conference this morning to announce that three investigations, including one by the Department of Justice, show that Kazeminy and Coleman were guilty of no criminal wrongdoing in their relationship.
Yes, one of the attorneys representing Kazeminy, Louis Freeh, has impressive credentials. He headed the FBI from 1993 to 2001.
And yes, the media event at the law offices of Winthrop and Weinstine in downtown Minneapolis, will offer solace to hard-core Republicans who forever will believe that Coleman lost his 2008 senatorial bid to Al Franken in large part because late-campaign charges of smelly conduct between Coleman and his generous friend, Kazeminy.
“We know today what we knew in 2008 to be true,” said Coleman in a statement that was passed out at the media event. “A disgruntled businessman in Texas lied to extort money. My political opponents turned those lies into multi-million dollar attacks against my family and Nasser Kazeminy.”
So Coleman and Kazeminy were innocent of criminal conduct?
Former FBI head announces results
Yes, says Freeh, who was hired by Kazeminy to conduct what he called a thorough investigation.
Freeh was quick to add that another firm, Greenberg Traurig, LLP, reached the same conclusion.
And he also said that a U.S. Department of Justice and FBI probe also ended months ago with no criminal charges.
That the Department of Justice never announced that its investigation was over is not surprising, Freeh said. The department seldom announces when it’s beginning or ending an investigation.
But he included a letter he wrote to the Department of Justice in a media packet. In the letter from Freeh to Justice is this sentence: “This letter will confirm that the matter which has been investigated by the Public Integrity Section, Criminal Division, United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been closed, and that no criminal charges will be filed in connection therewith.”
So all of that was announced.
But clean slates? There’s much that doesn’t pass the good-judgment test.
Kazeminy did give Coleman and his family more than $100,000 in gifts over the years, dating back to when Coleman was mayor of St. Paul (1993-2001). Included in the gifts were Neiman Marcus suits the businessman gave to his friend.
“There was no quid pro quo in the gifts,” said Freeh. “There was no wrongdoing.”
[Note: supporters of Joe Paterno and the Penn State administrators accused by Freeh will see the irony in the following section.]
Effort meant to correct public record
It was important, Freeh said, to get it “on the public record that the government closed the case. No criminal charges. That’s not on the public record.”
It was important not only Minnesotans but also for “the children and grandchildren” of Kazeminy and Coleman understand that was how all of this ended.
Someday, Freeh said, those children or grandchildren will google the names of Kazeminy and Coleman, and if this news event had not been held, there would have been no clear conclusion to the rash of allegations.
It is the responsibility of the Minnesota media to give this story — this story of no criminal charges —as much play as the initial allegations received, he said.
“Sadly, though these allegations were entirely false,” Freeh said, “they were repeated in hundreds of local and national media reports, which consumed the final days of Minnesota’s closely contested U.S. Senate race. As a result, the good names of Mr. Kazeminy and Sen. Coleman were gravely injured and tarnished.”
Freeh did say that Coleman, Kazeminy and their families understood how a news event like today’s would bring back an old story. Freeh also said that he understood that it’s difficult to clear names once they have been tarnished.
He said there once was a secretary of Labor accused of many “horrors,” but eventually was cleared of wrongdoing.
“He asked, ‘Where do I go to get my good reputation back?’ ”
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