April 21, 2014

Report concludes Senator Sorenson got paid by Bachmann campaign; Sorenson resigns

A Republican state senator has resigned after the release of a special investigator’s report about the senator’s alleged financial dealings during the Iowa Caucuses.

The special investigator appointed to investigate ethics complaints against State Senator Kent Sorenson concluded it was “manifestly clear” Sorenson received money for his role as chairman of Michele Bachmann’s 2012 Iowa Caucus campaign. Plus, the investigator said there is probable cause to charge Sorenson with a felony for lying about the money.

Senate Ethics Rules forbid senators from receiving money “directly or indirectly” for work on presidential campaigns.

Shortly after the investigator’s report was made public this afternoon, the Iowa Senate’s Republican leader issued a statement saying Sorenson had resigned “effective immediately.”  Sorenson sent an email to supporters early Wednesday evening saying he “did not do anything illegal” or “immoral.” Sorenson accused his attackers of a “witch hunt” and said he was resigning because of the financial drain of mounting a defense. Sorenson also accused the investigation of being “rigged” against him because of his public opposition to the Iowa Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling.

The investigator, who was appointed by the Chief Justice of the Iowa Supreme Court, concluded Sorenson “accepted compensation” from a political action committee associated with Bachmann and “conspired with others” to conceal the payments. In addition, the investigator cited “deeply suspicious” wire transfers of $73,000 from a Maryland company that were sent to a corporation Sorenson owns after Sorenson had endorsed another presidential candidate, Ron Paul.

The investigator’s report concludes “the evidence is clear” that Sorenson was breaking and knew he was breaking senate ethics rules. The investigator suggests Sorenson could be charged with felonious misconduct in office for filing written statements with the Senate Ethics Committee in which Sorenson denied he was paid by the Bachmann campaign.

(This story was updated at 7:02 p.m.)