Guilty Plea: Iowa State Senator Paid for Ron Paul Switch
Posted at 2:18 p.m. on Aug. 27, 2014
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.
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