Reid: Coleman Can Keep Office Until Feb. 4

Posted January 21, 2009 at 3:21pm

Republican Norm Coleman (Minn.) has struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to temporarily reopen his Hart Building office.

Coleman is in the midst of contesting the outcome of his 2008 re-election race against Senate Democratic hopeful Al Franken, who leads the Republican by 225 votes. A recount trial is scheduled to begin Monday, but that process could take weeks or months to complete.

In an interview at the Ronald Reagan Republican Center on Wednesday afternoon, Coleman — who was hoping to secure a second term last November — said Reid has unlocked his office doors and allowed him and his staff to return, pack up casework and transfer files to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).

Coleman was under no illusions, however, that he and his staff were back to clean up shop.

“We are packing up,” he said. “My term ended Jan. 2. And now we’re packing up and trying to work out a process whereby we can unpack as quickly as possible. That’s a whole other issue, when this thing is over, and hopefully in the next month to six weeks, if I’m there and already have an operation, my folks will already be gone.”

Coleman said that he and Reid only reached the agreement last week after “a lot of starts and stops.” Coleman says he will retain access to his old Senate digs until Feb. 4.

“The bottom line is that I believe we have until Feb. 4 to pack up the office and transfer the cases,” Coleman said.

Under Senate rules, Coleman’s staff will receive 60 days of severance pay, although Coleman himself will not be paid.

Coleman said Senate leaders also are provisionally holding his committee assignments, including the second-ranking spots on the Foreign Relations and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.