Norm Coleman Has Some Questions to Answer

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Former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) has signed on as a lobbyist with the Washington, D.C. firm Hogan Lovells, according to a report from Minnesota Public Radio.

Coleman spent the last two years as chief executive officer of the American Action Network (AAN), one of the conservative outside groups that spent millions of dollars (in anonymous donations) to benefit Republican candidates in last November’s elections. While he has stepped down as CEO of the organization, he will remain its chairman.

It seems like a pretty sweet “get” for AAN’s millionaire donors and it raises some questions about what discussions Coleman, and his new staff, will have with members of Congress in the coming months—especially the 15 House and Senate members that won after benefitting from AAN spending (Table 1, at the bottom of this post).

Hogan Lovell’s clients include telecommunications firms, energy companies, pharmaceutical interests, and finance companies, commercial banks—all interests that have a stake in current debates over the budget, tax reform, and other issues before Congress.

Here are some questions Coleman, and the 15 members that benefitted from the AAN spending should be asked about this new arrangement:

  1. Will Coleman be directly lobbying these 15 members of Congress on behalf of his firm’s clients?
  2. Did any of the firm’s current clients make donations to AAN in 2010? Will Coleman bring on any of AAN’s corporate donors to the new firm?
  3. Will Coleman advise his clients at Hogan on who they should donate money to in 2012 or will he solicit donations from them for AAN?

This cozy relationship between outside donors and DC lobbyists is just another example of how our political system is stacked against everyday people. Not only do millionaire donors get to hide behind innocuous sounding groups like "American Action Network," but then their leaders get paid to peddle that influence on Capitol Hill.

Table 1: AAN 2010 Spending to Benefit Current Members of Congress



AAN Spending

Rep. Patrick Meehan



Rep. Kristi Noem



Rep. Bill Johnson



Sen. Ron Johnson



Sen. Kelly Ayotte



Rep. Charles Bass



Rep. Joe Heck



Rep. Robert Dold



Sen. Mark Kirk



Rep. David McKinley



Rep. Tim Walberg



Rep. Reid Ribble



Rep. Robery Hurt



Rep. Morgan Griffith



Rep. Rick Crawford



*Analyzed by Public Campaign using data from the Center for Responsive Politics.