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September 16th, 2013
 

New Iowa Senate Ethics Charges Filed Against Sorenson

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New ethics charges have been filed against Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Milo). Peter Waldron, who worked with Sorenson on the Bachmann presidential campaign, filed the new charges and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee was notified of the complaint last Thursday, according to multiple senators who sit on the committee.

The new charges deal with Sorenson’s alleged negotiations with and payment from the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign. Peter Waldron is also the complainant in the first round of ethics charges filed against Sorenson. Those focus on Sorenson’s dealings with the Michele Bachmann presidential campaign. The bipartisan Iowa Senate Ethics Committee decided there was sufficient evident in those charges to send the case to a special investigator. Mark Weinhardt, a Des Moines attorney, is conducting that investigation.

The new round of charges are based on emails and phone conversations that were made public by Dennis Fusaro and first reported by TheIowaRepublican.com. Fusaro is the former executive director of the National Right to Work Committee. He was a close ally of Sorenson’s and the Paul campaign.

As with the initial ethics charges, the new complaint cites the alleged theft of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators database off the computer of Bachmann campaign staffer Barb Heki. Sorenson has been accused of taking part in the theft.

Barb Heki filed a lawsuit against Michele Bachmann, Kent Sorenson and others involved with the campaign regarding the alleged theft and the fallout. The case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. An Urbandale police investigation into the alleged theft continues.

Aaron Dorr, the brother of Kent Sorenson’s senate clerk Chris Dorr, and the executive director of Iowa Gun Owners, appeared to be negotiating a deal between Sorenson and the Paul campaign, based on emails released by Dennis Fusaro. In the emails, Dorr references having possession of “the main Iowa home-school group’s list here in Iowa.”

Using the NICHE list for political purposes is illegal. Chris Dorr admitted in sworn affidavit that he had downloaded some lists off of Heki’s computer. Bachmann’s campaigned was cited for illegally sending two emails to the NICHE database. Email evidence provided by Dennis Fusaro appears to show Aaron Dorr was using the list to negotiate a payment between the Paul campaign and Sorenson. Peter Waldron implies Kent Sorenson sanctioned the actions of Chris Dorr.

Waldron states in his new complaint that the email “reveals the motive to remove the list: to personally profit from its possession either in rental fees or in exchange for $100,000+ in salaries and donations to a political action committee (PAC) controlled by Senator Sorenson”.

Kent Sorenson has publicly denied that he allowed Aaron Dorr, or anyone else, to negotiate a deal between himself and the Paul campaign.

Waldron also alleges that Sen. Sorenson is in violation of a rule that would put in place to prevent state senators from accepting payment from presidential campaigns.

“Senator Sorenson violated Senate Rule 6 by conspiring with the Ron Paul 2012 presidential campaign to solicit and conceal compensation for him and others and a political action committee totaling well in excess of $150,000,” Waldron writes in his complaint.

For his evidence, Waldron includes the transcript a phone conversation between Sorenson and Fusaro. During the call, Sorenson admits Dimitri Kesari, the deputy national campaign manager for the Ron Paul campaign, gave Sorenson’s wife a $30,000 check. Fusaro recorded that phone conversation and supplied the audio to TheIowaRepublican.com.

Sorenson’s attorney, Ted Sporer, maintains that the check given to Sorenson’s wife from Kesari was never cashed. Initially, Sorenson denied that he or his wife received a check from Kesari. That was prior to an audio recording being released. Previously, Sorenson had repeatedly denied he was ever offered any money from anyone associated with the Ron Paul campaign in exchange for his endorsement and switch from the Bachmann campaign to Paul’s.

Another part of Waldron’s evidence supplied the ethics committee is the alleged email correspondence between Aaron Dorr and the Paul campaign.

“I respectfully encourage the Iowa Senate Ethics committee to investigate the alleged lies, obfuscations and denials made by the Senator from Milo,” Waldron writes. “His conduct alone casts a shadow over the Iowa Senate and the State of Iowa.  I have worked at the Iowa Straw Poll and at the Iowa Caucus for various candidates since 2000.  I have never seen a darker stain on the fine state of Iowa and her people than this one. The people of Iowa deserve better.”

Prior to the ethics charges being filed, Kent Sorenson’s attorney Ted Sporer told the Des Moines Register that the pending complaint “gibberish”. Sorenson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the numerous investigations and allegations involving himself, the Bachmann campaign and the Paul campaign. Entities who have conducted investigations on Sorenson and Bachmann include the FBI, the FEC, the Office of Congressional Ethics, a federal grand jury, the Urbandale Police, and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee.

From the time Senator Sorenson receives the new ethics complaint, he has 10 days to respond. After that time, the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee will meet to determine their next course of action.

You can view the full ethics complaint below:

Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com


About the Author

Kevin Hall
Kevin Hall brings almost two decades of journalistic experience to TheIowaRepublican. Starting in college as a radio broadcaster, Hall eventually became a television anchor/reporter for stations in North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. During the 2007 caucus cycle, Hall changed careers and joined the political realm. He was the northwest Iowa field director for Fred Thompson's presidential campaign. Hall helped Terry Branstad return to the governor's office by organizing southwest Iowa for Branstad's 2010 campaign. Hall serves as a reporter/columnist for TheIowaRepublican.com.




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