Political tidbits: Coleman’s challenge, Frank’s coming out, Rubin’s background

  • The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has all the details on Al Franken’s 225-vote victory (for now) and Norm Coleman’s legal challenge in the U.S. Senate recount in Minnesota:

The lawsuit that Coleman’s attorneys said they would file today is called an election contest. It will prevent Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, under state law, from officially certifying Franken’s election until the legal process has run its course.

No one knows how long that might take, but Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak said their case will pivot in part on constitutional issues, such as the equal protection clause, that typically are decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • On Monday evening, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid postponed reported plans to try to seat Franken on Tuesday, reports Reuters:

"Shortly after Election Day, Coleman criticized Mr. Franken for wanting a recount and wasting taxpayer money. Now that it is clear he lost, Coleman should follow his own advice and not subject the people of Minnesota to a costly legal battle," Jim Manley, spokesman for Reid of Nevada, said in a statement.

"However, there will not be an effort to seat Mr. Franken tomorrow," Manley said.

  • Can Coleman actually win? Even the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack isn’t optimistic, noting that if the Republican won all the major issues in dispute, he’d still be 20 votes behind and have to find some other way (perhaps more improperly rejected absentee ballots?) to make up the difference:

So Coleman would have to pull off something close to an inside straight in the election contest if he’s to win. Still, I don’t see why that should keep him from taking his case to court. Citizens deserve to know that there votes were accurately counted.

  • The Los Angeles Times has more information on the background and business of David Rubin, the Jewish philanthropist whose business, CDR Financial Products, is at the center of the investigation that caused Bill Richardson to withdraw his nomination to be secretary of commerce:

Rubin, 47, is an entrepreneur who was born in Mexico City to Israeli parents. They later moved to the Los Angeles area, where Rubin graduated from an Orthodox Jewish school. He never graduated from college but did earn a financial advisor’s license before starting his own firm in 1986.

CDR was initially called Chambers, Dunhill & Rubin. But there were no partners named Chambers or Dunhill. [CDR spokesman Allan} Ripp said the names were added to make the one-man shop sound more established.

  • Rubin has made a lot of political contributions, but there was one he found particularly distasteful, according to Bloomberg News:

CDR also ran into controversy in Philadelphia. In April 2001, the firm hired Ron White, a bond lawyer and chief fund-raiser for Mayor John Street, as a consultant, paying him a $5,000 retainer to help CDR win work with the city, according to court documents from a federal corruption trial. …

White also asked Rubin to donate money to the 2004 presidential campaign of Reverend Al Sharpton. Public disclosure of a contribution to Sharpton "would destroy me personally," Rubin said, according to telephone transcripts from the Philadelphia trial. White suggested sending the money to White’s federal political action committee. On April 4, 2003, Rubin donated $5,000 to the PAC. The same day, the PAC wrote a $1,000 check to Sharpton.

  • The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin profiles Barney Frank, who recalls coming out to then-Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill:

In 1986, Frank approached Tip O’Neill on the House floor to tell him that a forthcoming book would refer to Frank as a gay man. “He said, ‘Oh, Barney, don’t listen to that crap,’ ” Frank recalled. “They say stuff like that about all of us.’ I said, ‘Well, Tip, it’s true.’ And he sort of slumped in his chair and said, ‘Oh, Barney, I’m so sad. I thought you might be the first Jewish Speaker.’ ” (O’Neill, who had little facility for contemporary slang, prepared his staffers by saying that Frank had decided to “come out of the room.”)

  • The National Jewish Democratic Council is commending NBC’s Today Show for canceling Ann Coulter’s scheduled appearance Tuesday morning, but criticizing CBS’s The Early Show for inviting her on to promote her new book. They’ve even got a petition to sign:

As you know, it has long been documented that Coulter takes liberties with the facts. Furthermore, her comments — be they about Democrats, 9/11 widows, Jews, or others — often border on hate speech. While Ms. Coulter has her freedom of speech, you have the freedom to exercise better judgment.

  • If you want to know who is getting national security jobs in the Obama administration or other foreign policy buzz, Foreignpolicy.com has a new blog, The Cable, with all kinds of in-depth information.

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