The two party leaders in the Iowa Senate are saying little in public about a development that will put the Senate Ethics Committee in a national spotlight.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports Michele Bachmann’s former chief of staff has agreed to testify that Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson of Milo was paid with campaign money funneled through a Colorado consulting firm. Senate rules forbid senators from being paid by presidential campaigns. Sorenson, who was Bachmann’s state chairman, says the charges are “totally baseless.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal said it’s “not appropriate” for senate leaders “to engage in directing” what the Senate Ethics Committee does.
“It is an evenly balanced committee, equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans. That committee has to decide what it’s going to do,” Gronstal told reporters Thursday. “We’re going to stay out of it.”
Senate Republican Leader Bill Dix echoed those sentiments.
“There’s a process in place and that process is going to continue to move forward,” Dix told reporters Thursday. “People on the committee have their work to do and I’m confident they will do it.”
The matter does not have to be resolved when the 2013 legislature adjourns. The Senate Ethics Committee has up to nine months to handle the original complaint against Senator Sorenson. The complaint was filed in February by a Florida pastor who worked on Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.
Officials with the FEC and the Office of Congressional Ethics are also investigating the allegations against the Bachmann campaign.