Coleman joins RJC during recount fight


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Norm Coleman is joining the Republican Jewish Coalition as a consultant and strategic adviser.

The paid position is temporary and not an indication that the former U.S. senator from Minnesota is quitting his legal fight to hold on to his seat, RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks stressed.

Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner of their race earlier this month, but Coleman is challenging the recount tally in court. Franken, who edged Coleman by 225 votes in a battle between two Jewish candidates, has not yet been seated in the Senate.

"We have every expectation he’s going to be back in the Senate," Brooks told JTA. "Our agreement ends at that point."

Any possibility that Coleman could lose "has not been discussed," he added.

"The reality is this is being adjudicated and run and managed day to day by the lawyers, and he’s got the opportunity to devote time to things that are important to him," said Brooks, noting that Coleman has been involved with the organization for more than a decade, since he was the mayor of St. Paul.

According to an RJC statement, Coleman will help the organization plan for the future, provide "strategic guidance on important policy matters affecting the organization and the Jewish community," travel and speak around the country on behalf of the RJC. He also will help recruit new members.

The RJC employs a paid lobbyist, but Coleman will not lobby on behalf of the organization. Brooks said that Coleman was "insistent that we comply with Senate ethics rules" and will have "no involvement whatsoever" with that aspect of RJC activities.

While Brooks said the arrangement was not brought to the Senate Ethics Commitee, "it’s all been vetted" with the RJC’s general counsel and "there’s absolutely no question about the legality of this," said Brooks, noting that Coleman is "considered out of office right now."

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