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Report: FBI Investigating Allegations Concerning Minn. Senator

It has not been a good week for more than one prominent Midwestern politician.

In addition to the early birthday present the FBI gave to Illinois’ Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that

Agents with the FBI have talked to or made efforts to talk to people in Texas familiar with the allegations, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Houston is where the first of two lawsuits was filed alleging Nasser Kazeminy, a Bloomington financier, tried to steer $100,000 to Coleman via his wife’s Minneapolis employer. The second suit, filed in Delaware, alleges Kazeminy initially tried to get money directly to the senator.

Both Coleman and Kazeminy have denied any wrongdoing, and Coleman last month said he welcomes an investigation.

Over at our sister site, The Minnesota Independent, Chris Steller sees some similarities between the allegations about Coleman and the charges being brought against Blagojevich.

In both cases, the charges are that illegal payoffs to the elected official would be masked as payment of work performed by the wife. The monetary amounts are in the same ballpark: Laurie Coleman’s company received $75,000 and was to be paid $25,000, while the salary proposed for Patricia Blagojevich ran as high as $150,000.

One difference: In the Colemans’ case, payments — which haven’t been shown to be illegal, and whose propriety Sen. Coleman has insisted on — were actually made, not just talked about during wiretapped conversations.

Coleman made the following statement about the report last night:

We are not aware of any investigation that is under way, nor have we been contacted by any agency with respect to this matter. As we have said repeatedly, we welcome any investigation of these lawsuits by the appropriate authorities to get to the bottom of these baseless, sleazy and politically inspired allegations.

We’ll be following these events, as well as any recount news, closely at The Minnesota Independent.

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