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Conservative advocacy group chair and former Sen. Norm Coleman signs on with Romney

Former Sen. Norm Coleman, chair of a non-profit group that pumped at least $18 million towards conservative candidates or issues in the last election cycle, is joining Mitt Romney’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination as a special advisor, Romney’s campaign said Wednesday.

“His advice will be critical as I lay out my vision for improving our economy at home and strengthening our partnerships around the world,” a statement on Romney’s campaign website read.

Coleman said Romney is the right candidate for this “important moment in our nation’s history.”

“Whether it is turning around our struggling economy or maintaining our relationships with international allies, the next President must have the experience and leadership to keep America strong at home and abroad,” Coleman said. “Electing someone who has not been tested by the fire of experience results in failure. The last three years have proven that.”

Coleman, who is a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said that Romney had the best position on Israel of any Republican candidate.

Coleman served as Minnesota U.S. Senator from 2003-2009. He failed in a bid against Sen. Al Franken in the 2008 election.

Coleman currently serves as chairman of the American Action Network (AAN), a conservative non-profit that spent at least $18 million in support of Republican candidates or positions in the 2010 election cycle, according to campaign finance records compiled by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW). Former Minnesota U.S. Rep. Vin Weber also sits on the board of the group, and has also endorsed Romney.

Coleman’s organization has attracted criticism for its use of a non-profit status that doesn’t require the group to disclose donors. CREW, a watchdog group, wrote a letter to the IRS asking them to reconsider the American Action Network’s non-profit status because of its political activity.

In August, the AAN spent about $1 million sending out ads and mailers on Medicare that Factcheck.org found were misleading. In 2012, the [National Journal reports](former sen. norm coleman is joining mitt romney's bid for the republican presidential nomination as a special advisor, romney's campaign said wednesday. “his advice will be critical as i lay out my vision for improving our economy at home and strengthening our partnerships around the world,” a statement on romney's campaign website read. coleman said romney is the right candidate for this ) the group expects to spend in the “high tens of millions.”

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