Last year, former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, one of the Republican Party’s biggest fundraisers, had a request for 30 Republican congressional staffers. Coleman had helped many of their bosses’ campaigns in his role atop an organization that raised and spent over $165 million in the 2020 election cycle.
“At this time,” wrote Coleman, “the Kingdom would appreciate if your Member of Congress would publicly welcome this step and call out the Houthis for their continuous obstruction of the political process.” He was promoting a Saudi ceasefire initiative in Yemen that the Houthi rebels ultimately rejected. The rebels demanded that any such agreement would require the Saudis to fully lift the blockade of Yemen, which had contributed to more than 370,000 deaths.
His ask — “on behalf of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia” — wasn’t an isolated request. Coleman wrote over 1,000 emails to House and Senate staffers in 2021 and 2022 as part of his paid work for Saudi Arabia. Coleman and several of his law firm colleagues are registered as foreign agents of the Kingdom. The emails, as well as the details of the $175,000 per month contract between Saudi Arabia and Hogan Lovells, the law firm, are all contained in filings submitted to the Justice Department. The contract is part of the Saudi government’s robust lobbying operation that saw the kingdom spend $21 million last year to gain influence in Washington, according to public filings.
Coleman enjoys a unique position of influence over congressional Republicans. He helped found the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC, where he serves as chair of the board, according to a current biography on his law firm profile. Coleman also serves as chair of the American Action Network, a tax-exempt “social welfare group” — an IRS designation that allows political advocacy and requires no disclosure of funding. In other words, it’s a dark-money group.
Read the full piece in The Intercept.