Norman "Norm" Bertram Coleman, Jr., former U.S. Senator from Minnesota, is now a lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government. His firm, Hogan Lovells, has received almost $14 million ($13,715,783) from the Saudi government since 2014, including more than $2.7 million in 2019 alone. As Senior Counsel for Hogan Lovells, Coleman uses his government contacts and leverages his experience serving on the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committees to bolster the Saudi Arabian government's interests with Congress. In one especially disingenuous act, Coleman distributed to numerous Senators a Saudi government fact sheet extolling its record despite its egregious human rights abuses and war crimes. Among other falsehoods and misleading statements, this publication trumpets the Saudi government's contributions to women's rights and justice, notwithstanding the ongoing torture and imprisonment of women's rights activists and political activists in sham judicial proceedings relying on laws that criminalize criticizing the royal family.
Following the Saudi government's declining reputation over Jamal Khashoggi's murder and its disastrous war in Yemen, Coleman's firm played a key part in seeking to rehabilitate the Kingdom's reputation through an astroturfing campaign. This campaign saw Hogan Lovells repackage media hits and press releases from events outside of Washington D.C. to promote the Saudi government, but typically failed to disclose that another lobbying firm hired by the Saudi government arranged these events. Hogan Lovells then tailored these repackaged presentations to particular constituencies and passed them along as organic happenings.
Coleman also has an incredibly outsized influence in the GOP campaign finance world as "chairman emeritus" of the Congressional Leadership Fund — which spent over $158 million on Republican House races during the 2018 midterms — and is the first leader of a major Super PAC to simultaneously lobby and act as an agent for a foreign government.
By continuing to promote the interests of the Saudi government, Coleman and Hogan Lovells are contributing to, and benefitting from, the Saudi government's human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. Hogan Lovells immediately should end its contract with the Arabian government.
Coleman joined Hogan Lovells in 2011 as a member of the firm's government relations and public affairs practice group. He is now Senior Counselor at the firm, maintaining an office in D.C. and Minneapolis.
Coleman served as U.S. Senator for Minnesota from 2003–2009, where he was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Coleman also chaired the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Before winning election to the Senate, Coleman served as Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota from 1994–2002, and before that, he was the Solicitor General for the office of the Minnesota Attorney General. Coleman joined the office of the Minnesota Attorney General after graduating from law school and served as a prosecutor and then chief prosecutor before becoming Solicitor General. Coleman received his J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law and his B.A. from Hofstra University.
Coleman serves on the Board of Directors of the American Action Forum. He is the Chair of the Board of the American Action Network and the Chair of the Board of the Congressional Leadership Fund. Coleman is also the National Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition. These organizations should review their association with Coleman in light of his problematic ethical and legal practices to promote the interests of an abusive government.
DAWN calls on Coleman and Hogan Lovells to drop its contract with the Saudi Arabian government and to decline representation of any foreign government where there is credible information implicating the government in the commission of gross violations of human rights or international humanitarian law. Consistent with international and domestic legal responsibilities, see DAWN's detailed recommendations to Congress, lobbyists, and U.S. State Bar Associations on our Lobbyist Hall of Shame webpage.