DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Congressional candidate Jeff Coleman claims opponents are raising issues about his company out of desperation.
The Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce endorses Jeff Coleman in his Congressional race on January 21, 2020. Also pictured is Coleman's wife, Tiffany.
“When you're in the lead you become the target of negativity and attacks,” the Republican said Tuesday, after the Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce endorsed him.
“Stealing from our soldiers is the most despicable thing I can think of,” said Troy King, who is also seeking the Republican nomination for Alabama's Second District.
He is referring to fraud allegations against Coleman's large transportation company, Coleman Worldwide Moving.
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit, claiming that firm swindled the Department of Defense.
That suit alleges employees inflated the true weight of household furnishings it moved worldwide for U.S. Troops. Military relocation represents much of the company's revenue.
“It is clear that something was wrong at that company,” Jessica Taylor said. She, like Coleman and King, is in a field of seven candidates seeking the seat that Representative Martha Roby will relinquish in December. .
Coleman has mostly avoided the fraud issue during the campaign but, on Tuesday, he admitted there may have been wrongdoing.
“As a businessman of a large company there are situations where people are not doing the right thing ,” he told WTVY.
In 2012, the Department of Justice claimed that Coleman Worldwide bilked taxpayers in excess of $700 million. Three years later, and despite the seriousness of those allegations, DOJ and the company agreed to settle for $5 million. Coleman Worldwide admitted no wrongdoing.
DOJ did not accuse Coleman personally of having involvement in the scheme, but one of the company's terminal managers went to prison for his part in the fraudulent billing.
“I don't know many people who pay $5 million for something that is (without merit),” King said. He referred to claims last week by candidate Coleman that the lawsuit was baseless and politically motivated by then President Obama and an overly aggressive U.S. Attorney.
Taylor, meanwhile, is demanding that Coleman release transcripts of depositions taken from employees before the settlement agreement.
Coleman, though, said the real issue is who will work hardest for the district. (I'm) a positive business leader. I'm ready to go to Washington to get results for our great people,” he promised.