A senate ethics complaint against Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Milo) gained new traction Tuesday when a previously confidential witness agreed to come forward. This person claims to have written evidence and first-hand knowledge of alleged improprieties by Sorenson, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and other leaders of her 2012 presidential campaign.
Peter Waldron, a former Bachmann campaign staffer, filed three ethics complaints against Sorenson on January 28. One complaint was dismissed by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee on February 13. The other two charges were put on hold indefinitely.
The ethics committee requested that Waldron provide more information for his charge that Sen. Sorenson received money from a presidential campaign or PAC, in violation Iowa Senate ethics rules. Sorenson was the state chairman for the Bachmann campaign until he left one week before the caucuses and endorsed Ron Paul.
At the time he filed the ethics charges, Waldron claimed he had two confidential witnesses who could verify this complaint. On Tuesday, Waldron sent an email to Secretary of the Senate Mike Marshall, notifying him and the ethics committee that one of those witnesses, identified as “Confidential Witness A” in his complaint, is prepared to come forward.
“My client will substantially confirm the representations that Peter Waldron has been making,” St. Paul, MN attorney John Gilmore told TheIowaRepublican.com.
Gilmore says his client is a well-known figure in Republican politics in Iowa and Minnesota and is “extremely well-known to the Bachmann world”. This witness was not a decision-maker in the process but claims to have intimate knowledge of the alleged payments to Sorenson.
“Virtually everything that Mr. Waldron has said on the record about what ‘Witness A’ could substantiate and could verify, will in fact be verified and substantiated in the clear light of day with some emails, other documentation and his own firsthand knowledge,” Gilmore said.
The other ethics charge against Kent Sorenson is the allegation that he stole a database of contact information for Iowa homeschooling families off the computer of Bachmann staffer Barb Heki. She has filed a lawsuit against Sorenson, Bachmann and other campaign leaders in regard to the theft and the public perception that Heki was to blame for the illegal use of the list.
The Urbandale Police are also investigating the alleged theft. Eric Woolson, the former Iowa campaign manager for Bachmann, signed a sworn affidavit stating that Sorenson admitted taking part in the theft of the list.
The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee opted not to take action on that charge while legal action is still pending. The focus of the testimony from “Confidential Witness A” the financial arrangements, not the alleged theft.
“My understanding is he has secondhand knowledge of that, but in a more derivative fashion than his knowledge, the documents in his possession and his firsthand participation in the unfolding of the payments to Senator Sorenson,” Gilmore said.
The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to discuss this latest development. They will not hear any witness testimony at that time, but will likely decide whether or not to allow “Witness A” to testify at a later date. The ethics committee is a six-member, bipartisan panel.
Along with the Iowa Senate ethics complaint, Barb Heki’s lawsuit and the ongoing police investigation, the Federal Election Commission and Office of Congressional Ethics are looking into the Bachmann campaign’s financial dealings with Kent Sorenson. Gilmore said his client has cooperated with every investigative body that has requested information from him.
In a prepared statement on February 11, Senator Sorenson denied any wrongdoing, claiming the charges are “totally baseless, without evidence, and a waste of Iowans’ time and money. I trust the Ethics Committee will not waste the people’s time any longer than they must, in dismissing this complaint.”
On Tuesday, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Office of Congressional Ethics has expanded its investigation to look into allegations that Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign played an improper role in her 2011 book tour.
Photo by Dave Davidson
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