Franken-Coleman Update, 03/13/09 (AM Edition): Franken Rests, Coleman Squirms
Franken got to call his last witness yesterday, and tie up a few loose ends. Coleman got to squirm as a growing number of news outlets and computer experts called into question his claims of outside hacking and his campaign’s data-handling practices as the news of his storing unsecured credit-card data from his donors became known. (Ironically, if Coleman’s people had still followed their old policy with regard to credit-card data, there wouldn’t have been any problems.)
Closing arguments are happening today, and next week will be the reviewing, opening and possibly counting of the rejected absentee ballots that both sides have reintroduced into the recount — which, if it proceeds in a timely fashion, will result in the Election Contest Court’s making a ruling by this time next week, after which Norm will probably appeal said ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
But the whole question of Norm’s abuse of credit-card info is poised to distort — and possibly greatly shorten — this timetable. Hamline University law professor David Schultz informed TPM’s Eric Kleefeld that, since under state law the losing party of an election contest pays all court costs, Franken’s team can demand that Coleman’s people show them the money upfront — that is, they can demand that Coleman’s team put in escrow cash equal to the amount for which they’re going to be liable. If Coleman doesn’t have the cash — and it’s very likely that he doesn’t — then the appeal can’t go forward, and Al Franken gets his election certificate signed the moment the Election Contest Court rules in his favor, which could happen as soon as the end of next week. (Of course, then the wingnut chorus of "we wuz robbed!" gets even louder, but that’s the breaks, kids.) When asked if Franken’s team was considering this option, Franken attorney Marc Elias said that while he hadn’t really spent any time looking at it, now that the trial is nearly done he will be taking a look at that option. (By the way, you can still donate to Norm, but not through the website and not with a credit card.)
Meanwhile, if anyone was wondering when the first complaint to the state Attorney General over Norm’s asshattery was going to be filed, wonder no more: Web developer Tony Webster has done so (the full PDF is here), and notified Visa, Master Card, American Express and Discover, as well as the Secret Service and various media outlets, explaining in detail just what happened and why it is so egregious.
And just for fun, Chris of HowIsThatAssuranceEvidence? points out that Norm, back in 2007, had sponsored legislation that would have made it a breach of Federal law to do what he’s done. Luckily for him, the bill never became law.