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October 4th, 2013
 

Iowans Still Deserve Answers in Sorenson Ordeal – Potential Connection Between Paul Campaign and $73,000 in Payments Found

According to Kent Sorenson’s 2011 federal tax return, he had a net income of $84,469, which consisted of his state senate salary, wages he received from Steve Deace’s company Veritas Group, LLC, business income from the company who purchased his cleaning business, and income from a rental property as well as his consulting firm, Grassroots Strategy Inc.

In his deposition with special investigator Mark Weinhardt, Sorenson walked through his 2011 tax return line by line.  Sorenson originally claimed that he set up his Grassroots Strategy consulting firm after selling his cleaning business.  The idea was to run all of his consulting activity through that business entity, but Sorenson’s tax return shows otherwise.

Almost all of the money that’s been paid to Sorenson’s consulting firm is from C&M Strategies, a Colorado firm that the Bachmann campaign knowingly overpaid in order to compensate Sorenson for working on the campaign. In his formal response to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, Sorenson stated, “I was never directly or indirectly compensated by Michele PAC or the Bachmann campaign.”  Weinhardt’s investigation discovered that the Bachmann campaign’s contract with C&M Strategies was increased from $15,000 to $22,500 a month to cover Sorenson’s compensation.

The Weinhardt investigation also discovered that the majority of the revenue paid to Sorenson’s Grassroots Strategy consulting firm was from one entity, ICT Inc., a Maryland firm.  ICT paid Sorenson $73,000 from February 2012 through July of 2012.  Weinhardt called the wire transfers from ICT, “deeply suspicious.”

Weinhardt also explains that the first payment from ICT in February for $33,000 could represent a $25,000 payment to make up for the check that Sorenson never cashed from Ron Paul’s Deputy National Campaign Manager Dimitri Kesari, plus his first monthly payment of $8,000. Additional payments were made to Sorenson in $8,000 or $16,000 increments through late July of 2012.

Sorenson was extremely vague while being deposed by Weinhardt about his financial dealings with ICT.  What follows is the transcript from Sorenson’s deposition regarding his dealings with ICT.

Weinhardt: Who is ICT, Inc.?

Sorenson: It’s somebody I consulted with.  I believe they’re a business out of New Jersey.

Weinhardt: And for whom or what was the consulting about?

Sorenson: I can’t go back and recollect entirely, but I know that they’re a video consulting fime that produces videos for concerts, commercials.

Weinhardt: Do you see that ICT Inc. is incorporated in Hyattsville, Maryland?

Sorenson: Yeah; but I believe he’s based out of New Jersey, his business.

Weinhardt: Who is “he”?

Sorenson: I believe – – I’m not sure if it was Nick or Sonny Spanio (phonetic).  I know I’m not pronouncing the name right.  They’re Greek.

Weinhardt: Spell the last name for us the best you can.

Sorenson: I can’t. I can get that to you, I just don’t – – I struggle spelling my own name.

Weinhardt: So what was the consulting work that you were doing for Mr. Spanio?

Sorenson: I don’t think that’s relevant to the investigation.

Weinhardt:  I think that it is, and I’m going to ask you to tell me the answer to the question.

Sorenson: I’m not going to answer the question.

Weinhardt: Tell me what it was that you were doing for the income that was paid from ICT to Grassroots Strategy?

Sorenson: General consulting on political and business issues.

Weinhardt:  Consulting for what or for whom; in other works, who was ICT’s ultimate client?

Sorenson: They have a lot of clients.

Weinhardt:  I know. But what client were you doing work for?

Sorenson: I was doing work for ICT.

Weinhardt:  I know. But what client of ICT were you doing work for?

Sorenson: Not a specific client.  I was working for ICT.

Weinhardt:  Describe your activities for ICT that resulted, to begin with, in your getting $33,000 through Grassroots Strategies on February 9th of 2012?

Sorenson: They asked me to consult them on political issues and also locations for video shoots in Iowa that would appeal to a fraction of Iowans.

Weinhardt:  Do they have any client who was running for president of the United States in 2012?

Sorenson: I can’t answer that.  I mean. I don’t have the answer to that.

Weinhardt:  What politicians, who were running in Iowa, were clients of ICT?

Sorenson: I don’t have answers to those questions.  I wasn’t privy to that.

Weinhardt:  What was it that made you so valuable that they would pay, I think, well over $60,000 over the course of 2012 to you?

Sorenson: I don’t know if you understand how this works, but they – – had an interest in me possibly running for U.S. Senate in this election cycle.  I think if what had happened over the last twelve months, I would probably be one of the front-runners right now; a lot of people believe that.  He asked me to come work for him.  He wanted to help make that happen.

Weinhardt: So who is “he”?

Sorenson: Sonny Spanio. But I can’t spell his last name.

Weinhardt:  Do you have a cell phone number or an office number for Mr. Spanio?

Sorenson: I do not.

Weinhardt: Do you have any contact information for him whatsoever?

Sorenson: Not on me, no; but I can – – I’m sure I can produce that.

Weinhardt: When you return for your deposition on Monday, could you bring us all the contact information you have for Mr. Spanio?

Sorenson: I will.

Weinhardt:  Let me ask this directly: Did the payments that Grassroots Strategy received for or from ICT, Inc., have anything whatsoever to do with the Ron Paul campaign?

Sorenson: No.

Weinhardt:  Did they have anything to do with an identifiable candidate that you know of?

Sorenson: No. Not that I know of.

Weinhardt:  Did they have to do with any particular political issues that you know of?

Sorenson: No. Well – – No. I mean, I know that they were – – they were – – you know, they have a lot – – Listen, if you come to me I can’t honestly answer that question, because do you think somebody is from the far left is going to come ask me to help them?

Weinhardt: Well, my question is, there are organizations that are motivated by particular issues, guns, gay marriage, taxes, things like that.  Is there some issue that ICT was interested in your – –

Sorenson: Not a specific issue.

Weinhardt:  – – consulting about?

Sorenson: Not a specific issue.

Weinhardt:  So let me understand your testimony.  ICT paid you initially $33,000 and then $8,000 a month for a number of months for you to help them find locations for videos and things?

Sorenson: And also information on various voting blocks.

Weinhardt: But you never discussed and identifiable candidate or identifiable issue, and it had nothing to do with anyone running for president?

Sorenson: No.

Weinhardt:  And as you sit here today, you can’t remember the last name of the person who paid you the money?

Sorenson: I told you the name, I don’t recall the spelling.

Weinhardt:  Okay.

Sporer: Is it Spaniel, like the dog?

Sorenson: Spanio.  It’s like, S-p-a-n-i-o, but I’m not sure.

Weinhardt: When were you first approached by this person Spanio?

Sorenson: The first time I met him, I believe, would have been in 2010.  I believe so.

The deposition then went on to ask Sorenson a number of questions about his cell phone, laptop, and iPad before Sorenson had to leave to make a real estate meeting.  When Sorenson returned to Weinhardt’s law office to continue the deposition four days later on September 23rd, he informed Weinhardt that he intended on invoke his Fifth Amendment rights due to the ongoing federal investigation.  Ted Sporer, Sorenson’s attorney, told the Associated Press on Thursday, “Sorenson quit talking after receiving a federal subpoena seeking records related to his campaign work.”

Sorenson’s lack of information and knowledge regarding his own financial dealings with ICT is odd considering that the money he received from that client represents the largest single source of revenue for him in 2011 and 2012. Are we really to believe that someone who Sorenson can’t identify by name or by the state in which they do business, offered him $73,000 out of the blue because that person wants him to run for the United States Senate?

Are we also to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the $73,000 he received from ICT in 2012 just happens to equal an initial payment of $25,000, plus six monthly installments at $8,000 a month?  That six months worth of compensation also just happens to correspond with the timeframe that Ron Paul was still a candidate for the president.  The specific amount of $8,000 per month in compensation also just happens to correspond with the Dorr memo from August of 2011, which laid out Sorenson’s list of demands in return for his support of Ron Paul.

While we don’t yet really know who or what ICT, Inc., we do know that it is a business entity association with documentary film maker Noel “Sonny” Izon.  We also don’t know exactly how ICT may be connected with Ron Paul’s political apparatus, but there seems to be a connection that links ICT to Ron Paul’s Deputy National Campaign Manager, Dimitri Kesari.

Screen shot 2013-10-03 at 3.52.24 PMPavlo Kesari, Dimitri’s brother, is Facebook friends with a Noel Izon from Maryland.  Izon’s Facebook profiles says that he works for the AFL-CIO. A LexisNexis search found that Mr. Izon has a possible email address of SonnyIzon@AOL.com and links him to an address in Hyattsville, Maryland.  LexisNexis states that he is the manager of Tropical Investments, the President of Interactive Communication Technology (ICT, Inc.), and other film companies named An Open Door Production and Scorpion Pictures, LLC.

Is it just another coincidence that Dimitri Kesari’s brother just happens to be friends with the guy who paid Sorenson $73,000?  I highly doubt it.

Sorenson may have resigned his office, but that doesn’t mean that Iowans don’t deserve answers to these questions.  Hopefully a federal investigation will settle this matter for once and for all.

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of TheIowaRepublican.com, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and TheIowaRepublican.com as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, TheIowaRepublcian.com. Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.




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