February 5th, 2009
12:45 PM ET
13 years ago

Lawyer: Franken could be deciding factor in stimulus package

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/04/art.frankengrin0204.gi.jpg caption="Lawyers for Al Franken were in court Thursday in Minnesota."]

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (CNN) - An attorney for Democrat Senate candidate Al Franken told the Minnesota Supreme Court Thursday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie have an "obligation" to sign an election certificate, warning that President Obama's stimulus package could be "lost" without Franken's one vote.

A statewide recount put Franken in the lead over Republican incumbent Norm Coleman in early January, but Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar has been flying solo since the Senate convened due to a pending legal battle brought by Coleman.

"The nation's business is going on as we speak," Franken attorney Marc Elias told the panel of justices. "You need no further than read the newspaper to know that it may be that the fate of a stimulus package hinges on one vote in the United States Senate. For want of a vote, a stimulus package may be lost."

Elias said that the pending post-election trial - now nearing the completion of it's second week - could continue "for many more weeks or months."

"We are here in short because the governor and the secretary of state have failed to fill their legal duties under the constitution, under federal law, and under state law," Elias said.

Justice Paul Anderson told Elias he was concerned that, if the court granted a certificate and Franken was seated, Elias would come back to the courts at that point with a "colorful argument," claiming "Minnesota is deprived of jurisdiction" to continue with the current legal battle currently being played out.

Elias first responded saying he "thought" the argument would still remain the same.

"You think or it will?" Anderson replied.

"It will proceed under state law," Elias promised.

Arguing on Coleman's behalf, attorney Jim Langdon said the issue is "straightforward" and that Franken's petition should be denied so that the trial can finish and a winner can be decided.

"Neither the governor nor the secretary of state is empowered to issue a certificate of election while a contest is pending," Langdon argued, while still admitting that the Senate, should it choose on its own merits, can "do as it wishes."

Speaking for Pawlenty and Ritchie, Solicitor General Alan Gilbert maintained what those two men have stated previously, contending it's "inappropriate to issue a certificate of election because Minnesota law clearly does not provide for it."

"In a case of a contest, the certificate may not be issued until the proper court has determined the contest," Gilbert said. "The petitioner [Al Franken], I would say, has come up with some rather creative ways of interpreting that phrase."

"[Minnesota law] could not be more clear," he continued. "It does not provide for provisional certificate - it provides for no certificate. And that's why my clients, the governor of the state of Minnesota and the secretary of state of the state of Minnesota have complied with Minnesota law."

The justices indicated a decision would be "forthcoming."


Filed under: Al Franken • Minnesota Senate race • Norm Coleman
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. mary dale

    But its ok if the crooked republican takes over? Remember the day after the election when Coleman was ahead by a few votes and he told Franken to drop out? Funny how his advice changed when he found out he lost.

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Al, NY NY

    @RGB in MN.........Go away Al. Your only comedy is your attempt at politics
    ------------

    What did you say when "Gopher" from the Love Boat was elected to congress from Iowa? Or Sonny Bono from California? If you were OK with those 2 you should have no problem with Franken. Of course since they were members of Grandpa's Oldtimer Party and Franken is a Democrat I am thinking you have a small double standard in terms of acceptability. Yes?

    February 5, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Bill in Mn

    Well, Mitch McConnell and gang are behind Norm Coleman's obstructive stance to keep the Dems from moving the country's business forward. Norm claims that he is broke and had to go to work to pay his bills. I'm thinking that the Repukes are paying his lawyer fees to continue to drag this out in the courts. That what Norm is getting out this. This is no joke, look around our country is falling apart at the seams, and all the Repukes can do is stand there being obstructive and proud. 2010 is not that far off .....Time to set a Democratic Supermajority in the House and Senate.

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. gt

    they need to keep that fool away for as long as possible..... having franken -steal in the senate will only quanify what a true idiot he is....MN and the country are far better off with 99 senators than have the village clown running around washington acting like a fool

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Act According to Law

    Seat an individual simply because of the way he would vote on a certian bill? This is totally biased and political - with no basis in law or justice. Sure, Minnesota is being short-changed by having only one senator but the people aren't going to be served by this type of reasoning.

    February 5, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. Bob the Observer

    It appears that Mr. Franken is overestimating his potential contribution to the senate. As a paid professional clown who has never done any serious public service work, the very thought that he is crucial in the passing of any critical legislation is enough to make me want to laugh harder than I ever did at any of his lame "Saturday Night Live" skits.

    He is a thief who is trying to legitimize a stolen election, much like a football team that tries to snap the football after a questionable call to prevent a play being overturned.

    Franken was a parasite that took advantage of an electoral readjustment, and is similar to many of the Republicans that won in 1980 and 1994 because others were winning (except of course he had to steal votes to get this far).

    He may be seated in the senate, but I don't imagine there is any urgent rush to get him there. If he gets the seat, he will be an insignificant freshman senator without any real committee clout, and in 2014, he will be a former senator, if not sooner.

    What Al really needs is an actual job. The kind where you work.

    February 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. Mississippi Mike

    Let's not forget that Franken owed back taxes in 17 states and failed to pay employer's insurance on a number of his employees. Is tax evasion a new trend in the Democratic Party or is it the latest fad?

    February 5, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. don

    After Daschle, Richardson, Blago, Geithner, and Franken, it should be the Repubiicans and the UnDemocratic Party. There are just so many like Franken in the Beltway that are so smart, so unique and so sensitive that they are above the law. Franken has especially turned himself into a joke criticizing Bush for extra legal activities, and thinking his criticism gives Franken the authority to bypass law.

    February 5, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  9. Patrick

    Well Mr. Fraken, you can't open the door to litigation, then quickly slam it shut when things don't go your way.

    You're a true hypocrite using fear just like Obama to try and pass the Porkulus Package. You could care less about any economic stimulus, you just want that senate seat. "Senator Al Fraken" sounds absolutely ridiculous.

    February 5, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  10. Bob in Pa

    Until it is official he should stay in Minn. If he turns out to not be the duely elected offical and he votes, will they remove the vote casted ?

    February 5, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  11. Eyes of Texas are Upon You

    Swell – we're all dependant on that idiot Franken?

    February 5, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. Erik S.

    Franken is a joke, this who election thing is a sham, I mean how long does it take to get this right unless someone is hiding something? It's obvious Coleman truly does have a gripe and it will get ironed out in court, in a bout a years time.
    Hey CNN, I have seen on all other news sites that the Iraqi election was a success for Al Malki and Iraq's in general, why is this anywhere on your site? iraq being a success too much to swallow even after Bush is gone? Hey mods, please post.

    February 5, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. John G

    Let me see if I understand this:

    Pawlenty is somehow obligated to seat a guy who may not have even won (we won't know until every vote is counted) so the President can get his way?

    Maybe if the stimulus package were actually designed to help stimulate the economy the President wouldn't need a single vote to tip the scales...

    February 5, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Zach

    Yea, and California is in the hands of the Terminator. I hate when people get on Franken or Obama because of their status. Lest you forget Fred Thompson, Ronald Reagan and I Got You Babe himself Sonny Bono (God rest his soul) were actors before politicians. Now Obama is not an actor, but he often gets attacked for his celebrity status. Let's get beyond this pettiness.

    February 5, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. OFFWALLST

    Congress is a joke...he will fit right in!!

    February 5, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  16. EVERYMAN

    OMG, the fate of the stimulus package and thus the country is in Franken's hands?

    -We're TOAST!

    February 5, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. jfs Memhis, Tn

    Ridiculous.......................this exemplifies democracy at it's worst. " If the vote doesn't go the way the candiates want it to....just keep appealing." THESE FOLKS HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT IT IS NOT ABOUT THEM OR THIER RESPECTIVE POLITICAL PARTIES........it is about the constituients....you know...THE VOTERS. Coleman get out of this mess ......... you are making a mockery of our democratic process. Shame on you and THE GOP. I regret having ever been a Republican.

    February 5, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  18. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool

    When this bailout happens, may god help us all.

    February 5, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  19. jaye

    Whats wrong with those people in Minnesota?
    Seat Franken if he has the most votes and be done with it.

    February 5, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Mickie

    So any republican who loses by a close vote (i.e. Bush) can ask the court to decide to put them in office anyway. Aren't the judges appointed and therefore loyal to whichever party appointed them? Sounds like a conflict of interest to me. But hey, I'm just one of the voters, what rights do I have compared to RNC?

    February 5, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  21. Matt

    [Elias said that the pending post-election trial — now nearing the completion of it's second week — could continue "for many more weeks or months.]

    There shouldn't be an apostrophe in "its."

    February 5, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. Steve Adams

    Actually, worried mom, you are the joke. Norm Coleman lost the election and is now trying to pull a "Bush" by getting his cronies in the Minnesota state house to stall his rightful seating in the senate to further the Republican agenda. WAKE UP and get on the right path to the future. Bush's deregulation and favoritism to corporate America has landed us in the worst depression since the 1920/s. And you want to seat someone who will continue down the path to disaster. You certainly must be one of the most disconnected people on the planet, next to George Bush!

    February 5, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  23. Greg Pottstown, Pa.

    An attorney for Democrat Senate candidate Al Franken told the Minnesota Supreme Court Thursday that Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie have an "obligation" to sign an election certificate, warning that President Obama's stimulus package could be "lost" without Franken's one vote.

    The flip side to this is that the stimulus could be passed using a vote of a fraudulently appointed senator. If the courts rule that Franken lost it would result in a dilemma that could bring the bill back to the senate. Not to mention the time that would be wasted in the process.

    February 5, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. montag24

    I seem to recall that the votes were recounted and Mr. Franken won. Let him be seated and let him vote AYE on the stimulus package.

    Ah – sweet revenge!

    February 5, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    "Lost" may not be a bad thing for a "stimulus" package based on the Keynesian economic bet that spending a trillion or so of our money will necesasrily change the behavior of rational consumers, who may remain cautious until the root causes of overpriced housing and artificially solvent banks plays out in the market, not in Tim Geithner's head.

    February 5, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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