State senators from both political parties are working on a proposal that would make it “abundantly clear” senators are not to be paid for working on presidential campaigns. Republican Kent Sorenson resigned from the senate in October, a few hours after an independent investigator concluded Sorenson likely accepted money that had been funneled through the Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul campaigns — a violation of current Iowa Senate ethics rules.
“There can be and should be some work done to clarify the senate rules in that regard and clarify what is allowable and what isn’t,” says Senate GOP Leader Bill Dix of Shell Rock.
The ethics rules state that a senator is not to be paid “directly or indirectly” by a political action committee or a presidential campaign.
“The wording is not as specific as it could be and I think that it should be,” Dix says. “There should not be any doubts by anyone as to what is permissible and what isn’t.”
Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs agrees and has been working with Dix and others on the project.
“Over the last year we have talked several times about our language as related to that being vague and that we need to make it more clear,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal says there is “no point in waiting” and he anticipates the changes will be made soon, shortly after the legislature convenes in January.
“The presidential candidates are already starting their treks to Iowa, so we want to make sure nobody gets paid by Ted Cruz,” Gronstal says.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is among nearly a dozen potential 2016 presidential candidates who have visited Iowa in 2013.