Franken Files Suit in Attempt to Be Seated

Posted January 13, 2009 at 5:20pm

Comedian Al Franken (D) filed a lawsuit in the Minnesota Senate recount with the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, effectively asking the high court to order state officials to sign off on his election so he can be seated in the Senate — at least for now.

The state canvassing board reported earlier this month that Franken led former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) by 225 votes, but the incumbent has opted to file an election contest based on what his campaign views as inconsistencies in the recount. Franken’s petition ordered Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) and Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) to sign off on his election certification — an action that, according to the Franken campaign, is not prohibited by state election law even while there is an election contest is in progress.

“We are not arguing in this petition that this would in any way moot Sen. Coleman’s ability to pursue his contest, because there the law is quite clear,” Franken recount attorney Marc Elias said Tuesday.

In accordance with state law, a panel of three judges has already formed to try the election contest, and the trial will begin within 20 days.

Franken’s campaign argued that they are attempting to ensure Minnesota has full representation in the Senate — even if it is provisional until the election contest is complete. The court petition followed a Monday letter from Franken’s campaign to Pawlenty and Ritchie presenting the same legal arguments.

“We thought we had seen the epitome of arrogance [Monday], but [Tuesday] Al Franken has topped himself,” Coleman attorney Fritz Knaak said, blasting Franken’s lawsuit.

Coleman’s attorneys told reporters Tuesday that Franken is pursuing legal action because he believes the recount will not hold up in court.