Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Guilty Plea: Iowa State Senator Paid for Ron Paul Switch

Bachmann was the front-runner in Iowa in summer 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bachmann was Iowa’s presidential front-runner in summer 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A former Iowa state senator pleaded guilty to concealing payments he received from former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign to switch his support from Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Kent Sorenson, 42, of Milo, Iowa, entered the guilty plea for one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures and one count of obstruction of justice.

According to a Department of Justice release, Sorenson admitted he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, “he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000.”

“On Dec. 28, 2011, at a political event in Des Moines, Iowa, Sorenson publicly announced his switch of support and work from one candidate to the other,” the release said. That’s the day he switched his support from Bachmann to Paul.

“An elected official admitted that he accepted under-the-table payments from a campaign committee to secure his support and services for a candidate in the 2012 presidential election,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said in a statement. “Campaign finance reports should be accurate and transparent, not tools for concealing campaign expenditures. Lying by public officials — whether intended to obstruct the FEC or federal investigators — violates the public trust and the law, and the Department of Justice does not tolerate it.”

DOJ said Sorenson was paid about $8,000 a month, with the payments concealed by passing them through a film production company, then through a second company and finally to Sorenson and his spouse.

In his plea agreement, Sorenson also admitted that he gave false testimony to an independent counsel appointed at the request of the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, which was investigating allegations from a former Bachmann campaign employee.

“Today, Mr. Sorenson has taken responsibility for his crimes,” said Acting Assistant Director in Charge Timothy A. Gallagher. “Exploiting the political process for personal gain will not be tolerated, and we will continue to pursue those who commit such illegal actions.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from the Omaha Field Office and the Des Moines Resident Agency, according to the release.

Last year, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report on Bachmann’s campaign, including allegations of payments to Sorenson and various other issues.


Related stories:

Michele Bachmann: ‘Handcuff’ the ‘Lawless President’s Hands’

Bachmann Ethics Review Continues

10 Most Quotable Members of Congress

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.

  • TMZ

    Ron Paul is a traitor. He ruined Michelle Bachmann’s campaign..

    • Brandon

      Michelle Bachmann had no campaign to ruin nor any that had a viable shot at winning the nomination, let alone the presidency.

      • Ace Steele

        Neither did Ron Paul… Seriously.

        • Brandon

          Irrelevant to what I said. The original comment stated that Ron Paul was a “traitor” for ruining Bachmann’s campaign. I then stated that Bachmann had no viable campaign to ruin..”viable” as in one that could have won the nomination and then presidency. Since you brought up the Ron Paul campaign, let me remind you that he raised more money than any other campaign in 24 hours and received the most support from active duty personnel and troops. Maybe RP wouldn’t have won the nomination because of his anti-status quo style, but as far as ideas go, his campaign left a conspicuous mark on the political conversation in America. Bachmann, on the other hand, is a status quo neocon that simply crawled back to her hole in Minnesota after the 2012 election and she will remain a footnote in American history.

      • dale ruff

        She had something the Paul campaign wanted, and they were willing to go into the gutter to get it.

    • Zach Martin

      Okay…exactly how does that translate to treason?

      • dale ruff

        Treason is betraying your country. Illegal and secret bribes for political support is a betrayal of our country.

  • pitch1934

    Where are the charges against the Paul staffers who did his?

    • Centaur927

      Ron Paul denied knowing at the end of this Chris Wallace segment.

      • pitch1934

        Ron Paul’s knowledge wasn’t the question I asked. If it was done, it had to be accomplished by staff. When will the staffers be investigated and will they be charged?

        • Centaur927

          I know what you’re saying and agree they need to go after
          the staffers, and doubt they intend to stop with Sorenson’s conviction. My point is a presidential candidate knowingly lied about it and benefitted from it. That is intertwined with bringing the staffers to justice because the most important question will be, how high up the food chain the deception went. Did the staffers design the whole bribe scheme, or were they taking direction from the top banana?

  • Banshee2

    No surprise. They are typical Repugs. Anything for a buck. What’s funny is Mitch the turtle McConnell’s current campaign manager, Jesse Benton, was Rand Paul’s campaign manager and in on the bribe. Well evidently the way you get your fellow Repugs support is bribery.

    • Zach Martin

      Seeing as how 700 billion was kicked back to Obama supporters via the stimulus, you have no leg upon which to stand.

      • Banshee2

        Try again Zach. That bird don’t fly.

      • dale ruff

        I am not an Obama fan, but this is pure dishonesty.

        Less than 1/3 of the stimulus package was used to create or save jobs (including thousands of teachers and cops), while 1/3 was used to provide for the overextended social safety net program, and over 1/3 was tax refunds to working Americans.

        Since you (I assume you work) got tax cuts from the Stimulus, you are one of the 100 million workers who got “kick backs.”

        BTW, the stimulus worked; the month it took effect, the job losses which were 800K a month when Obama took office, turned positive, as did the economic growth….and they have been positive since. A stronger stimulus would have created more jobs and more growth………..but a certain Party did not want the recovery to be a credit to Obama, so it was watered down as much as possible.

  • jakele143

    Traders Superstore and learn how to trade and then move to South East Asia and live a life that you never dreamed you could live. That’s what I am doing now and very happy instead of being in fear all the time and stressed.

  • Meletaeus

    “Oh, I know Jesse knows. I KNOW Jesse knows.” — Kent Sorenson (speaking in a leaked phone call, about Jesse Benton)

  • dale ruff

    Those who pay the bribes are more guilty than those who take them.
    Just as Ron Paul denied he knew anything about the racist articles in the Ron Paul Newsletter (off of which he made a lot of money), despite staffers reporting he was intimately involved in running it, he now denies knowing anything about this bribe for support. I think he knew. Either way, it tarnishes his image as a straight shooter and competent leader.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...