Norm Coleman: Saudi Lobbyist and Ex-US Senator, Dual Roles & Political Influence

Former Senator Norm Coleman, once a United States Senator from Minnesota, is now wielding his influence in two significant capacities. As both the chair of a Republican super PAC and a lobbyist for the Saudi government, his actions draw attention to the intricate interplay between political contributions, lobbying, and foreign interests.

Dual Roles: Chair of GOP Super PAC and Saudi Lobbyist:

Norman Bertram Coleman Jr., the former Senator, has transitioned into the role of chair for a Republican super PAC. He also concurrently serves as a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, reflecting his dual engagement in politics and lobbying.

Lobbying and Financial Connections:

Reports revealed by The Intercept have unveiled that Coleman’s law firm, Hogan Lovells, entered into a contract with the Saudi government, entailing a monthly fee of $175,000. This financial arrangement highlights his lobbying endeavors on behalf of Riyadh.

Influence within Republican Circles:

While actively lobbying for Saudi Arabia, Coleman remains a notable figure within the Republican Party. As the founder of the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) super PAC and its chair, his influence extends within GOP circles. Coleman also holds a position of authority as the chair of the American Action Network (AAN), a tax-exempt group, often referred to as a dark-money organization due to its limited disclosure requirements.

Coherent Advocacy Efforts:

Coleman’s advocacy on behalf of Saudi Arabia coincides with AAN’s messaging that portrays the kingdom positively. A 2015 blog post on AAN’s website lauds Saudi Arabia as a model of “moderate Islam” and an opponent of the Islamic State (IS) group. This alignment between Coleman’s lobbying efforts and AAN’s messaging suggests a concerted attempt to bolster the Saudi image.

Questionable Statements and Complex Roles:

In the aftermath of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Coleman appeared on news channels to defend Saudi Arabia’s strategic relationship with the United States. His responses underscore his conviction in maintaining this relationship, even amid criticism.

Connection to Republican Campaigns:

Coleman’s political influence also extends to his involvement in CLF and AAN, which have financially supported numerous Republican candidates. While there is no direct evidence of Saudi money flowing into campaign advertising, the interplay between lobbying, advocacy, and political contributions raises questions about potential indirect influence.

Implications and Ongoing Scrutiny:

The convergence of Coleman’s lobbying activities, super PAC leadership, and ties to AAN has sparked inquiries into potential conflicts of interest and ethical concerns. The complex web of relationships raises questions about foreign influence in US elections and policy decisions.

Norm Coleman’s dual role as a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia and a prominent figure within Republican circles underscores the intricate interconnections between lobbying, political contributions, and policy advocacy. This raises ongoing questions about transparency, ethics, and the impact of foreign interests on the US political landscape.

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