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ethics

Weekend open thread: Political corruption edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Sep 07, 2014 at 13:10:56 PM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread.

I've been reading about the recent convictions of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen McDonnell on federal corruption charges. Both are likely to do prison time for accepting money and favors for personal benefit. Incidentally, McDonnell refused a deal that would have required him to plead guilty to just one charge, sparing his wife from prosecution. Iowa's own former State Senator Kent Sorenson showed more chivalry--or was it wisdom, for once?--when he agreed to plead guilty on corruption charges, protecting his own wife from prosecution in connection with illegal payments.

While I have no problem with prosecuting greedy politicians, it occurs to me that the McDonnells' outrageous actions (such as letting a wealthy businessman cater their daughter's wedding) were less damaging to the public welfare than many more prevalent forms of "legal corruption." No governor will be prosecuted for appointing wealthy donors to powerful state positions, where they may promote their own businesses or interfere with those they see threatening their industry. No governor will ever be prosecuted for giving interest groups undue influence on public policy, either covertly or openly. In the August 31 Sunday Des Moines Register, Richard Doak wrote an excellent piece on how Governor Terry Branstad has "put state government at the service of one segment of the people: the business community." I've posted excerpts after the jump. Doak's not talking about criminal activity, but he cites policies that have harmed Iowa more than any luxury vacation for the McDonnells could ever harm Virginia.

On a related note, the Brennan Center for Justice recently published a disturbing report on trends in federal campaign spending:

In recent cases like Citizens United and McCutcheon, the Supreme Court has been narrowing what counts as corruption in campaign finance cases to mere quid pro quo corruption. Quid pro quo is Latin meaning "this for that." In other words only explicit exchanges of gifts for votes or campaign cash for official acts will count as corruption for the Roberts Supreme Court. But a new study entitled, "The New Soft Money" from Professor Daniel Tokaji and Renata Strause calls this narrow read of corruption into question.  

Speaking of "dark money," Iowa's third Congressional district was among thirteen tossup U.S. House races examined in a separate Brennan Center report on outside political spending. A growing trend (not yet seen in IA-03) is for a super-PAC to be formed supporting a single Congressional candidate, giving "big donors a way of evading federal contribution limits."

UPDATE: Over at the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington's blog, Adam Rappaport illustrates another example of legalized corruption: "issue ads" funded by dark money, which are clearly intended to influence elections. Although the "tax code plainly says section 501(c)(4) organizations must be 'exclusively' engaged in non-political activity," the IRS interpretation allows dark money groups to fund blatant electioneering communications.  

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Kent Sorenson pleads guilty over hidden payments scheme (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 27, 2014 at 13:39:46 PM CDT

The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that former State Senator Kent Sorenson has pleaded guilty to two charges related to hidden payments in exchange for supporting Ron Paul for president. When he abandoned his position as Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign chair to endorse Paul less than a week before the 2012 Iowa caucuses, rumors immediately circulated about alleged payments for his support. Sorenson repeatedly denied those rumors. However, he has now admitted that he received $73,000 in concealed payments after endorsing Paul. As part of his plea agreement, he also admitted lying to journalists and giving false testimony to an independent counsel appointed to investigate various charges. Sorenson resigned his Iowa Senate seat last October, the same day that independent counsel filed a devastating report. Federal authorities have been investigating the case since last year.

After the jump I've enclosed the full Department of Justice press release, with more details about the plea deal. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. As far as I can tell, these charges are unrelated to any payments Sorenson allegedly received from the Bachmann campaign earlier in 2011. A former Bachmann campaign staffer made those claims in complaints he filed with the Federal Election Commission and with the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee. Another former Bachmann staffer signed an affidavit containing details on Sorenson's compensation for work supporting that campaign.

One mystery I hope someone will solve someday is whether Sorenson's attorney, Ted Sporer, lied on behalf of his client, or whether Sorenson lied to Sporer along with everyone else. Even on the day he resigned from the state legislature, Sorenson maintained he was an innocent victim of a "straight-up political witch hunt." A separate lawsuit that had alleged Sorenson stole a valuable e-mail list from a Bachmann staffer's computer was eventually settled without any admission of wrongdoing by Sorenson.

UPDATE: Russ Choma has more details at Open Secrets, including the full plea agreement. Highly recommend clicking through to read that whole post. I've enclosed excerpts below.

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IA-Gov: "Stache-less" Jack Hatch and Monica Vernon news roundup

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:14:20 AM CDT

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch announced today that Cedar Rapids City Council member Monica Vernon will be his running mate. In addition to following the Iowa tradition of female lieutenant governors, Vernon balances the ticket geographically and ideologically. An elected official in Iowa's second-largest city for seven years, she has been campaigning around northeast Iowa since last summer as a Democratic candidate for Congress. She carried Linn County and finished a strong second to Pat Murphy district-wide on June 3.

Some Democrats are grumbling that Vernon is a longtime Republican who joined our party just five years ago. But frankly, Hatch isn't running in a Democratic primary. He needs to appeal to a statewide electorate including thousands who have become disaffected from the GOP, just like Vernon did. Anyway, she is arguably more progressive than Governor Chet Culver's running mate, lifelong Democrat Patty Judge. Despite the complaining, there shouldn't be any major snags when the Iowa Democratic Party's statewide convention officially nominates Vernon for lieutenant governor this Saturday.

After the jump I've posted background on Vernon and other recent news from the Hatch campaign, including his first television commercial for the general election and highlights from his weekend appearance on Iowa Public Television's "Iowa Press" program.

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IA-03: Stick a fork in Matt Schultz--he's done

by: desmoinesdem

Tue May 06, 2014 at 08:10:00 AM CDT

Be careful what you brag about in politics. Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz highlighted alleged cost savings to the state in his Congressional campaign's first television commercial. As journalists looked more closely at staff reorganization in the Secretary of State's Office, they discovered details that will likely derail Schultz's aspirations in IA-03.

Ryan Foley of the Associated Press was the first to report that Schultz kept his political appointee Jim Gibbons on the payroll for seven months after deciding to eliminate Gibbons' position. It's not clear what work, if any, Gibbons was doing during his final months as a state employee.

Yesterday Foley reported for the Associated Press and Jason Clayworth reported for the Des Moines Register on more political appointees whom Schultz allowed to work from home after requesting their resignations in 2011 and 2012. I've posted excerpts from both stories after the jump, but you should click through to read them in full. In a statement to the Des Moines Register, Schultz defended his actions:

"What the liberals in the media are ignoring as they level their attacks against me, is that the Department of Administrative Services, the state's personnel experts, advised my office that instead of severance an agency could keep an employee on payroll longer than they are required to come to the office, so long as the employee was available for phone calls and questions from home. [...] If the media had real integrity they would be thanking me for protecting Iowa's election integrity and finding ways to save Iowa taxpayers more than $200,000."

I doubt that excuse will fly in a GOP primary where voters have several other credible candidates to choose from. Schultz has some powerful backers and donors, but so do a few rivals with less baggage. Even if Schultz surprises me by winning the Republican nomination in IA-03, the latest revelations provide plenty of ammunition for Staci Appel in the general election--not that we needed more proof that Schultz has been ineffective in his current position. He pursued the wrong priorities and spent federal funds on his own crusade rather than how they were intended to be used.  

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Weekend open thread: End of 2014 legislative session edition

by: desmoinesdem

Sat May 03, 2014 at 09:46:47 AM CDT

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

The Iowa legislature got out of town on May 2, 110 calendar days after the 2014 session began. That's ten days after lawmakers' per diem payments ran out but earlier than in any year since 2010, when Democrats held majorities in both chambers. After the jump I've posted closing remarks delivered by the top Iowa Senate Democrats (Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and President Pam Jochum) and the top Iowa House Republicans (Speaker Kraig Paulsen and Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer). A series of posts next week will focus on some of the more significant legislative results from the session, as well as important bills that never did pass.

I've also enclosed Gronstal's prepared remarks on the final Iowa Senate vote of the session: granting subpeona power to the Government Oversight Committee to continue investigating various scandals in Governor Terry Branstad's administration. Gronstal emphasized that the resolution is "narrowly drafted" and "not a criminal investigation. The goal is not to convict people. The only goal is to find out what went wrong [in state government] and how to fix it." The resolution passed by voice vote just before the Senate adjourned on Friday morning. Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix blasted what he called a "dangerous" and "underhanded partisan move." He claimed the "disruption of separation of powers" will invite "a state constitutional crisis," and that the Oversight Committee's investigation is politically motivated.

Finally, in non-legislative news, Patrick Caldwell reported for Mother Jones this week on a remarkably shady deal involving Danny Carroll in 1996. At the time, Carroll was a real estate agent in the Grinnell area and an Iowa House Republican. He currently chairs the Republican Party of Iowa--though probably not for much longer. After reading Caldwell's piece, I want to know why anyone supposedly committed to Christian values would participate in a scheme to take advantage of an elderly widow with debts.  

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IA-03: Two windows onto Matt Schultz's management skills (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 14:45:00 PM CDT

Matt Schultz is touting his management of the Iowa Secretary of State's office in a television commercial promoting his campaign in Iowa's third Congressional district.

But new reports by Ryan Foley of the Associated Press indicate that when reorganizing the Secretary of State's office, Schultz showed preference to a political appointee and allowed him to keep collecting a large salary despite doing little if any work for the government.

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Iowa Democratic leaders challenge ALEC membership claims

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:35:00 AM CST

Iowa House Minority Leader Mark Smith and Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal both issued statements yesterday challenging a document that listed all 150 members of the Iowa legislature as members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The group lobbies for conservative and pro-corporate policies in state legislatures around the country, often submitting model legislation that lawmakers propose on their behalf.

In an open letter to ALEC's executive director, Smith said none of the 47 Iowa House Democrats have applied to ALEC for membership or paid dues. He questioned "why ALEC would accept payment of dues on behalf of legislators who clearly want no part of your organization," adding that it "likely" violates Iowa ethics law for "a corporation or other entity" to pay dues to ALEC on behalf of lawmakers. I've posted the full text of Smith's letter below.

Gronstal's statement, which is at the bottom of this post, describes ALEC's claims as "deceptive and deceitful," since none of the 26 Iowa Senate Democrats is a member of the organization.

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Weekend open thread: Where are they now?

by: desmoinesdem

Sun Nov 10, 2013 at 17:45:00 PM CST

What's on your mind this weekend, Bleeding Heartland readers? This is an open thread. I've been catching up on some former state lawmakers, legislative candidates, and government officials.

As you may recall, Jeff Boeyink resigned this fall as Governor Terry Branstad's Chief of Staff for a position with a lobbying firm. About ten days ago, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board released an opinion at Boeyink's request on how he can be involved in "government affairs" while Iowa's two-year ban on former officials' lobbying is in effect. More details on that opinion are after the jump.

After interviewing six candidates for a vacant seat on the Clive City Council, the remaining council members voted 4-0 to appoint Susan Judkins to the position. Judkins has lived in Clive since 2006. She was the Democratic nominee in Iowa House district 43 in 2012, losing to State Representative Chris Hagenow by just 23 votes. To my knowledge, no Democrat has announced plans yet to run against Hagenow in 2014.

Former Republican State Representative Renee Schulte lost her seat in 2012 to Art Staed, the Democrat she had defeated in 2008. Schulte is now consulting with the Iowa Department of Human Services on mental health reform. What was originally a six-month contract has been extended until the end of this year. Schulte recently ruled out running for Congress in the open first district.

Former Alaska Governor and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, unofficially known as "Half-Term" or "The Quitter," was just in Des Moines for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition's fall fundraiser in Des Moines. Another Tea Party favorite, U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah, was a featured speaker. O.Kay Henderson posted the audio and highlights from Palin's and Lee's speeches at Radio Iowa. Throwback Phyllis Schlafly was honored at the Faith and Freedom Coalition event. How many Bleeding Heartland readers are old enough to remember Schlafly in her heyday, railing against the Equal Rights Amendment?

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More work needed to protect the Iowa caucuses

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Oct 08, 2013 at 11:53:38 AM CDT

Without question, this past week was good for the future of the Iowa caucuses. State Senator Kent Sorenson was pressured to resign after a special investigator found probable cause that he lied about evading Iowa Senate rules against being paid by presidential campaigns. Thanks to improved coordination between the Republican Party of Iowa and Iowa Democratic Party, the 2014 off-year caucuses will be held simultaneously, as usual. Both developments should take ammunition away from critics who point to potential cheating during the Iowa caucus process.

Now it's up to Iowa lawmakers to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption from undermining our state's role during the 2016 presidential race.  

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Iowa Senate district 13 special election set; Democrat Mark Davitt is running

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 14:14:00 PM CDT

Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation today setting the special election to fill Iowa Senate district 13 for Tuesday, November 19. Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned last week after special investigator Mark Weinhardt delivered an exhaustive report about Sorenson's alleged malfeasance to the Iowa Senate.

I highly recommend looking through Weinhardt's report (here are links to volume 1 and part 2). It astounds me that Sorenson is posturing as the victim of a "straight-up political witch hunt." Exhibit 12 in this part of Weinhardt's report summarizes an interview with Susan Geddes, who managed Sorenson's Iowa House campaign in 2008 and Iowa Senate campaign in 2010. She repeatedly warned Sorenson that he could not be paid by the Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign under Iowa Senate rules, and that the truth would catch up with him.

Republican blogger Craig Robinson discussed "winners and losers" in the Sorenson ordeal here. I largely agree with his list, but I would put Senate Minority leader Bill Dix in the loser category, as well as Senate Ethics Committee Republicans Jack Whitver and Jerry Behn. If they'd had their way, Weinhardt would never have been appointed to look into Sorenson's wrongdoing. Speaking of ethics, it is customary to link to a blog post when you mention it. Robinson referred to, but failed to link to, this Bleeding Heartland post about the legal problems of Sorenson's attorney, Ted Sporer.

Former Iowa House Democrat Mark Davitt announced today that he will run in the Senate district 13 special election. I've posted his press release after the jump. Davitt was born in Madison County and represented most of Warren County in the Iowa House for three terms before losing his seat to Sorenson in 2008. Republican State Representative Julian Garrett is running, but I expect at least one other person to seek the Republican nomination for the special election.

I enclosed a map of Senate district 13 after the jump. As of October 1, the district contained 13,293 registered Democrats, 15,013 Republicans, and 15,909 no-party voters.

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Curtain falls on Kent Sorenson's political career

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Oct 02, 2013 at 17:47:00 PM CDT

State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned this afternoon after special investigator Mark Weinhardt filed a damning report with the Iowa Senate on Sorenson's conduct. Iowa Senate ethics rules don't allow senators to receive payment from political action committees, but Weinhardt found probable cause that money from political action committees supporting presidential candidate Michele Bachmann flowed to Sorenson indirectly by way of consulting firms. The Des Moines Register uploaded the more than 500-page report in two pdf file: volume one and volume two. Weinhardt also discussed "deeply suspicious" wire transfers and a check Sorenson received from a Ron Paul presidential campaign official.

Speaking to the Des Moines Register today, both Sorenson and his attorney Ted Sporer insisted that the senator never lied, because he was a subcontractor, not an employee of Bachmann's campaign.

Senate Ethics Committee Chair Wally Horn announced plans to convene a meeting of that committee next week. Later this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix said in a statement, "Today, I called for Senator Sorenson's resignation, and he agreed to do so effective immediately."

While looking for Dix's full statement on the Iowa Senate Republicans website, I was amused to see photos of Sorenson scrolling across the front page, featuring "latest news" from May 28. Apparently no one involved with the Senate GOP caucus has figured out how to keep the website up to date since Dix fired their key communications staffer in May. For fun and for posterity, I took a screen shot that I've posted after the jump.

Sorenson's resignation opens up Republican-leaning Senate district 13. I haven't heard yet about any candidates from either party planning to run for that seat in 2014. UPDATE: John Deeth speculates on possible candidates for the special election in that district. I think Iowa House Democrat Scott Ourth will stay in House district 26 rather than run for the Senate seat.

UPDATE: O.Kay Henderson posted the e-mail Sorenson sent to his constituents today. I've enclosed the relevant portion below. He accuses his opponents of conducting a "straight-up political witch hunt" against him because he tried to remove Iowa Supreme Court justices from the bench. What ever happened to personal responsibility?

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More bad news piling up for Kent Sorenson (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Sep 17, 2013 at 07:20:00 AM CDT

Allegations that State Senator Kent Sorenson sought and received payment for endorsing presidential candidate Ron Paul are now the subject of a complaint with the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee. You can read the full text of Peter Waldron's latest complaint at The Iowa Republican blog. Earlier this year, the former consultant for Michele Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign filed complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, focused on alleged payments Sorenson received for his work on Bachmann's campaign. Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady appointed a special investigator in May to look into those claims.

Since Sorenson appears determined to fight these charges rather than leave the political stage quietly, this saga could drag on for some time. Senate Ethics Committee Chair Wally Horn told Rod Boshart yesterday that committee members would meet soon "to discuss how to proceed."

Meanwhile, the U.S. House Ethics Committee voted last week to continue its investigation of the Bachmann presidential campaign, Kevin Diaz reported for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on September 11. Alleged payments to Sorenson feature prominently in that investigation. According to Diaz, the Office of Congressional Ethics board has recommended that Sorenson be subpoenaed, because he did not cooperate with investigators.

Sorenson may need to find a new attorney at some point. Former Polk County Republican Party chair Ted Sporer has been representing him so far. Multiple Bleeding Heartland readers have brought to my attention an August 16 decision by Polk County District Court Judge Douglas Staskal. In that ruling, Judge Staskal found that "beyond a reasonable doubt," Sporer "fabricated evidence" and "lied under oath" to help a client who was violating the terms of a divorce decree. I've posted six pages from the 25-page decision after the jump. If Judge Staskal's findings become the subject of a formal complaint with the Iowa Supreme Court Grievance Commission, Sporer might eventually be disbarred.

UPDATE: On September 18, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its latest report on most corrupt members of Congress. Bachmann made the list, in part because of activities allegedly linked to Sorenson's work for her campaign.

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Kent Sorenson poised to fight, not quit

by: desmoinesdem

Thu Aug 29, 2013 at 11:40:00 AM CDT

Despite growing calls for him to resign, Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson signaled yesterday that he will fight a new ethics complaint based on alleged payments from Ron Paul's presidential campaign. The Des Moines Register's Jennifer Jacobs reported that Peter Waldron plans to file a second complaint with the Iowa Senate, claiming that Sorenson worked with Paul campaign officials "to solicit and conceal compensation" for himself and others. Waldron is a political consultant who worked for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. Earlier this year, he filed complaints against Sorenson with the Federal Election Commission as well as with the Iowa Senate.

Documents and audio recordings published by The Iowa Republican blog indicate that intermediaries negotiated with Paul campaign officials on Sorenson's behalf, and that Sorenson later received a big check from a Paul campaign manager. But Sorenson's attorney Ted Sporer told the Des Moines Register that the charges are "gibberish."

Sporer confirmed [Dimitri] Kesari, against Sorenson's wishes, surreptitiously handed Sorenson's wife a check drawn on a retail business's bank account. But the check is still in Sorenson's possession, he said.

"It has never been cashed," Sporer said. "Obviously we can show it's never been cashed. And an uncashed check is simply an autograph."

Three weeks ago, Sporer told a Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter, "There was no money that changed hands. There was no direct or indirect payment from the Ron Paul campaign."

The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee won't be able to punt this time, but it may take months to investigate the new charges. Meanwhile, I haven't heard of anyone planning to challenge Sorenson in the GOP primary to represent Iowa Senate district 13. If I were a Republican in Warren or Madison County, I'd have started looking for a more viable candidate months ago.

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More Republican lawmakers call on Kent Sorenson to resign

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 11:15:00 AM CDT

A growing number of rank and file Iowa Republican lawmakers are ready to see State Senator Kent Sorenson exit the political stage as soon as possible. While legislative leaders have remained silent on the issue, yesterday State Senator Brad Zaun and State Representative Clel Baudler both called on Sorenson to resign over allegations that he solicited and received payments in exchange for ditching Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign for Ron Paul.  
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Ethics board to investigate National Organization for Marriage spending on retention votes

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 16:40:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously on August 8 to investigate the National Organization for Marriage's spending in Iowa during the 2010 and 2012 judicial retention elections. Details are after the jump.

UPDATE: Added details below on the National Organization for Marriage demanding that the ethics board's executive director recuse herself from any investigation.

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Ethics board dismisses complaint against State Auditor Mosiman

by: desmoinesdem

Mon Aug 12, 2013 at 13:50:00 PM CDT

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board agreed on August 8 to dismiss a complaint Iowa Democratic Party executive director Troy Price filed in May against newly-appointed State Auditor Mary Mosiman. The complaint alleged that Mosiman improperly used funds from her Story County auditor campaign account for personal expenses. Mosiman admitted using campaign funds to pay for certified public accountant training and travel to Republican political events after she became head of the Iowa Secretary of State's elections division. She maintained the payments were permissible because she had future political aspirations, even though she was not an elected official or a candidate for office when the funds in question were used. Mosiman is now running for state auditor in 2014.

After the jump I've posted a memorandum of understanding between Mosiman and the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. Both the state auditor and Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board members agreed that Iowa law does not spell out the full range of allowable post-election spending from campaign accounts.  Mosiman agreed to repay the campaign funds to resolve the dispute, while denying wrongdoing. The ethics board agreed to "consider issuing one of more advisory opinions" to "address the lack of clarity in the law that has revealed itself in this matter."  

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Sorenson scandal reflects poorly on Iowa Gun Owners group

by: desmoinesdem

Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 12:20:00 PM CDT

The scandal of State Senator Kent Sorenson demanding and apparently receiving money in exchange for endorsing Ron Paul for president has the potential to do a lot of collateral damage in Iowa Republican circles. Note the conspicuous silence of state party leaders this week--shocking on one level but less surprising when you consider that several Iowa GOP State Central Committee members worked closely with Paul's campaign.

The Sorenson story is also a huge black eye for the Iowa Gun Owners group, which claims to be "Iowa's only No Compromise gun rights organization."

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How long can Iowa Republicans stand by Kent Sorenson? (updated)

by: desmoinesdem

Wed Aug 07, 2013 at 08:53:00 AM CDT

Following up on yesterday's bombshell news, The Iowa Republican publisher Craig Robinson has now published an audio recording with transcript of State Senator Kent Sorenson describing how he took money in exchange for endorsing Ron Paul for president.

There is no excuse for Sorenson's behavior or the continued silence of state Republican Party leaders. I don't care if Iowa GOP Chair A.J. Spiker and several state central committee members are old "Paulinista" buddies with Sorenson. You have to be blind not to see the damage Sorenson has already done to the Iowa caucuses. Governor Terry Branstad and Iowa Senate Minority Leader Bill Dix may be afraid to take a public stand because Sorenson has a cheering squad among social conservatives, but this man does not belong in the Iowa Senate.

I will update this post as needed, and I hope it will be needed.

UPDATE: Sorenson's attorney Ted Sporer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that no money changed hands, either directly or indirectly, between Sorenson and the Paul campaign. Is he lying, or did his client lie to him?

So far I've seen no comment about this scandal from conservative talk radio host Steve Deace, a longtime Sorenson ally. Deace's motto is "Fear God, Tell the Truth, and Make Money." I guess two out of three ain't bad.

Conservative radio host Simon Conway commented on the Sorenson allegations, "Does not look good." An understatement, but at least it's something. Conway added, "We did a full hour on this yesterday and will be doing more today."

SECOND UPDATE: As of the late afternoon on August 7, Iowa Senate Republicans had "no comment at this time" regarding Sorenson. Unreal.

THIRD UPDATE: The source for this story, former Ron Paul aide Dennis Fusaro, spoke to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, The Iowa Republican posted audio and transcript of a different conversation between Sorenson and Fusaro about the check Sorenson received.

Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz became the first GOP elected official to say Sorenson should resign if the allegations are true.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Republican blog drops Kent Sorenson bombshell

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 15:11:00 PM CDT

Since the day State Senator Kent Sorenson dumped Michele Bachmann for Ron Paul, Iowa politics watchers have speculated that he was paid well to do so. Earlier this year, news emerged of indirect payments totaling $7,500 per month from entities supporting Bachmann to Sorenson while he chaired her presidential campaign in Iowa. Today The Iowa Republican blog's publisher Craig Robinson posted e-mails and memos detailing a large "payoff" for Sorenson in exchange for publicly endorsing Paul.

I hope these allegations will generate momentum in the Iowa legislature to prohibit lawmakers from being paid by political campaigns. An ethics investigation of Sorenson is pending, but these rules should be written into state law in my opinion. The integrity of the Iowa caucuses is undermined by the perception that presidential candidates can buy state legislators.

I assume that whoever leaked this information to The Iowa Republican is hoping that Sorenson will either resign or lose in a GOP primary to represent Senate district 13 next year. It's a district Republicans "should" hold, but Sorenson is surely not the best candidate to accomplish that goal. To my knowledge, no Republican has announced plans to challenge Sorenson in a primary. He has passionate defenders in the social conservative wing, thanks to his uncompromising stance on Medicaid abortion funding, his hostility toward an LGBT youth conference, his support for impeaching Iowa Supreme Court justices and bringing back the death penalty, among other issues.

It's worth noting that Robinson has never been sympathetic to the Ron Paul faction within the Iowa GOP. His website displayed a strong "Rick Santorum" slant in late 2011 and early 2012. Critics have even accused Robinson of taking money in exchange for promoting a certain angle at The Iowa Republican. Still, today's post on Sorenson's "payoff" is a must-read.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

FBI involved in Bachmann campaign investigation

by: desmoinesdem

Mon May 20, 2013 at 11:18:00 AM CDT

The FBI is interviewing witnesses to alleged illegal payments involving staffers for Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign, Kevin Diaz reported for the Star Tribune over the weekend. One of the key witnesses, Bachmann's former chief of staff Andy Parrish, recently submitted a sworn statement to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, leading to the appointment of a special investigator for an ethics complaint against Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson.

Follow me after the jump for more details.

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