Saturday, November 1, 2008

Dear Star Tribune

(Blogger's Note: If you were directed here by my "Please read my blog" e-mail, enjoy this entry but please don't miss "He is Too!" which appears below and was the intended focus of my request. Thanks. SLS)

Dear Sirs:
I am using my blog, Prairie Pondering, to communicate my concerns over your failure to aggressively report on the allegations being asserted against Minneapolis businessman Nasser Kazeminy and his associates by Paul McKim, the former CEO of a Texas deep sea services company. As you know, Mr. Kazeminy is a long time benefactor of Senator Coleman whose financial support of the Senator has been questioned in the past. Mr. McKim alleges that his companies were forced by Mr. Kazeminy to funnel $75,000 to a Minnesota insurance firm that contracts with Senator Coleman's wife, Laurie. In fact, Mr. McKim alleges that the payment arrangement, specifically devised by Mr. Kazeminy to subsidize the Coleman family income, was for $100,000 but Mr. McKim refused to authorize the fourth $25,000 installment.

I have seen no effort on the part of the Star Tribune to report on the substance of the allegations as they might reflect on the character and integrity of your endorsed candidate for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Rather, the headline and sum and substance of the stories being run support Senator Coleman's dismissal of the allegations of financial impropriety as "sleazy politics" by the Franken campaign.

I have taken the time to read the entire lawsuit filed by Mr. McKim. Thank you for posting a link to it on your website. It appears, as claimed by Mr. McKim in press accounts carried by others, that the litigation is not directed at Senator Coleman, except as a result of his association with Mr. Kazeminy, the real target. It also appears that the $75,000 at issue with respect to Senator Coleman is a very small part of Mr. McKim's multi-million dollar claim alleging violations of corporate law by Mr. Kazeminy and his colleagues.

Nonetheless, one is left with the question of "What did Senator Coleman know and when did he know it?" with respect to the $75,000. If, in fact, he reported the $75,000 on his Senate Financial Disclosure Reports and if, in fact, the Minnesota entity through with the $75,000 was funneled had no real business relationship with the source of the funds and if, in fact, Mrs. Coleman provided no real services in consideration for the $75,000, then this is not about "sleazy politics". It is about corruption.

I trust you understand your responsibilities to the community well enough to realize that the Star Tribune should be asking questions to determine to what extent the ifs are true. Before Tuesday's election. You have designated the matter as "sensitive" on your website and claimed the right to screen readers' comments before allowing posting for public review. So be it. This is sensitive. But you shamefully abdicate the responsibilities of a free press if you make no effort to determine to what extent Mr. McKim has painted an accurate depiction of the business transactions of Mr. Kazeminy designed, in part, to directly benefit Senator Coleman.

Senator Coleman's blanket denial and efforts to shift the focus to Al Franken's campaign and, with not a little chutzpah, use the incident to once again smear the challenger, is not an answer to the questions you should be asking. There appears to be some substance to Mr. McKim's allegations. Not only did I read the Complaint, did some quick research on Mr. McKim's law firm, Haynes and Boone. Here's a small piece of what I found (which, actually, merely confirmed what I thought I knew as soon as I heard the name) on the firm's website:

"Today, with more than 500 lawyers in 10 global offices, Haynes and Boone is recognized by Corporate Board Member magazine as the top corporate law firm based in Dallas-Fort Worth, and is ranked among the 50 best corporate law firms in the country by Fortune 1000 corporate counsel surveyed by the BTI consulting group. Despite our growth we retain our historic commitment to fairness, respect, camaraderie."

This is not some fly-by-night publicity seeking law firm. There is every reason to believe this prestigious firm is convinced that its client has a good faith claim. The financial exhibits accompanying the lawsuit prepared on behalf of Mr. McKim seem to back up his claims of deceptive behavior designed to hide the diversion of corporate funds to Senator Coleman.

Minnesotans are entitled to know before Tuesday's election whether Senator Coleman could be facing the same type of criminal charges that were just successfully brought against Senator Ted Stevens. There is no evidence that the matter was instigated by the Franken Campaign or the Democratic National Committee. If there is a credible explanation for Mrs. Coleman's receipt of the $75,000, then let us all hear it. If there is not, then let us all know.

It is up to the media to get the truth out now. It may be "sensitive", but your decision on how to handle this sensitive situation will dictate whether a fraud perpetrated on Minnesota voters by either Mr. McKim or by Senator Coleman will be uncovered in a timely fashion.

Click on the image below to enlarge. It is an exhibit from Paul McKim's lawsuit purporting to show an effort to hide the payments to Hays Company, which turned the money over to Laurie Coleman.

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