Kent Sorenson's prison sentence will stand

A panel of judges on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously found that U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pratt did not abuse his discretion by sentencing former State Senator Kent Sorenson to 15 months in prison. Federal prosecutors had recommended probation after Sorenson admitted to taking money in exchange for endorsing Ron Paul for president, citing his cooperation with investigations of former Paul campaign operatives. But Pratt concluded that “Defendant’s conduct, viewed through the lens of America’s traditional understanding of the profound evils of political corruption, requires a substantial sentence.” A term of probation would not “reflect the seriousness” of his offenses, nor would it “deter others from engaging in similar criminal conduct.”

Sorenson appealed the sentence on several grounds. The Appeals Court found Pratt was not required to consider the value of Sorenson’s campaign work as a mitigating factor, nor was he wrong to consider the senator’s public office when imposing a sentence. I enclose below today’s full decision from the Eighth Circuit panel. You can read the District Court’s lengthy sentencing memorandum here.

Sorenson began serving time in March at a federal prison in Illinois. According to a September blog post by Shawnee Sorenson, her husband will transfer to a halfway house in January to finish his sentence. She had previously accused Judge Pratt of imposing a harsh punishment as “retribution for the work Kent did to unseat three unlawful Supreme Court Justices and unseat a current Supreme Court Justices [sic] wife.” Sorenson campaigned against retaining three Iowa Supreme Court justices in 2010, the same year he defeated Democratic State Senator Staci Appel. Her husband, Brent Appel, continues to serve on the high court.

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IA-Gov: Boulton, Hubbell lead in early legislative endorsements

State Senator Nate Boulton and Fred Hubbell have locked up more support among state lawmakers than the five other Democrats running for governor combined.

Whether legislative endorsements will matter in the 2018 gubernatorial race is an open question. The overwhelming majority of state lawmakers backed Mike Blouin before the 2006 gubernatorial primary, which Chet Culver won. Last year, former Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge won the nomination for U.S. Senate, even though about 60 current and 30 former Democratic lawmakers had endorsed State Senator Rob Hogg.

Nevertheless, prominent supporters can provide a clue to activists or journalists about which primary contenders are well-positioned. Where things stand:

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Weekend open thread: Iowa Democratic district conventions edition

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

The Iowa Democratic Party’s conventions in the four Congressional districts yesterday elected 29 delegates and four alternates for the Democratic National Convention as well as members of various party committees.

Unlike 2008, when Barack Obama gained significant ground at Iowa’s county and district conventions, this weekend’s allocation of delegates for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was the same as what would have been predicted based on the February 1 precinct caucus results. The Iowa Democratic Party released this table on April 30:

IDP district convention delegates photo IDPdistrictconventions_zps5ibx8ljl.png

I’ll update this post later when the full lists of delegates and State Central Committee members become available. Some notable results are after the jump.

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Some big 2008 Obama supporters on new list of Iowa Women for Hillary

Today Hillary Clinton’s campaign released names of “nearly 200 women from all of Iowa’s 99 counties including nearly two dozen State Legislators, County Chairs and local elected officials” who support Clinton’s presidential bid. I’ve enclosed the full list after the jump. Many of these women also backed Clinton for president before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, such as former Iowa Attorney General Bonnie Campbell, former State Senator Staci Appel, and Ruth Harkin.

Nine women currently serving in the Iowa House are on the Iowa Women for Hillary list: State Representatives Marti Anderson, Timi Brown-Powers, Abby Finkenauer, Ruth Ann Gaines, Vicki Lensing, Mary Mascher, Jo Oldson, Sally Stutsman, and Phyllis Thede. Lensing and Mascher were among 21 state lawmakers who backed Clinton before the 2008 caucuses. Oldson was also in the legislature then; to my knowledge, she did not endorse a candidate before the 2008 caucuses. I am seeking confirmation and will update as needed.

The others were not in the state legislature in 2007, but Anderson and then Johnson County Supervisor Stutsman were high-profile supporters of Clinton’s campaign. Thede and Gaines were county leaders for Obama. I don’t know whether Finkenauer and Brown-Powers were active volunteers for any of the presidential campaigns that year. UPDATE: Brown-Powers told me that she caucused for Obama but was not active in the campaign.

Two current Iowa Senate Democrats are on the new Iowa Women for Hillary list: Janet Petersen backed Obama in 2007, as a member of the Iowa House. Liz Mathis was not a state lawmaker that year, and I am not aware of her publicly endorsing a candidate.

State Representatives Cindy Winckler and Beth Wessel-Kroeschell endorsed Clinton as Iowa House members in 2007 but have not done so this year. I am seeking comment from both on whether they have picked a different candidate, are undecided, or plan not to endorse before the 2016 caucuses.

Like Gaines and Thede, several other women on today’s press release were among the Obama campaign’s county leaders in 2007, such as Peggy Bramman (Delaware County), Clara Oleson (Cedar County), and Debbie Gitchell and Jan Bauer (Story County).

I got a kick out of seeing Bauer’s name, because earlier this year, she told the Washington Post that she was “waiting to see how aggressively pursued I am” before picking a candidate. Bleeding Heartland cited that comment as an unfortunate example of prairie prima donna behavior, which hurts the Iowa caucuses.

The best-known onetime John Edwards supporter on the new Women for Hillary list is Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. attorney and Democratic nominee for governor and U.S. Senate. She came out for Clinton a few months ago.

Two other prominent Iowa women who weren’t on today’s press release are worth noting as once-dedicated Obama supporters backing Clinton for president in 2016. Jackie Norris was an early Obama campaign staffer in 2007 and ran Obama’s 2008 general election campaign in Iowa. Early last year, she showed up for the “Ready for Hillary” super PAC’s first event in this state. Former Iowa Democratic Party chair Sue Dvorsky announced in June that she will be helping Clinton’s campaign build support for next year’s caucuses.

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IA-03: State Senator Matt McCoy not running

Democratic State Senator Matt McCoy announced today that he will not be a candidate in Iowa’s third Congressional district in 2016. In a statement I’ve enclosed in full below, McCoy said “now is not my time to run,” citing his desire to be present for his son’s last two years of high school.

McCoy was planning to run in IA-03 in 2002, before then Democratic Representative Leonard Boswell moved to Des Moines. Redistricting following the 2000 census had put Boswell’s Decatur County farm in the heavily Republican fifth district.

Desmund Adams is the only declared Democratic challenger to first-term Representative David Young. The 2014 nominee Staci Appel ruled out running earlier this summer. Former Governor Chet Culver and Jim Mowrer, who ran against Representative Steve King in 2014, are rumored to be considering the IA-03 race.

Young is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s target list and not yet widely known among his constituents, but Washington Democrats were cool to the idea of McCoy running.

According to the latest figures from the Iowa Secretary of State’s office, the sixteen counties in IA-03 contain 150,997 active registered Democrats, 163,107 Republicans, and 163,172 no-party voters.

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Staci Appel decides against repeat campaign in IA-03

Former State Senator Staci Appel told the Des Moines Register’s Jennifer Jacobs this morning that she has decided not to run for Congress again in Iowa’s third district. Appel was uncontested for the 2014 nomination in IA-03 and raised quite a bit of money but lost to David Young by a disappointing 10-point margin.

No Democrats have announced plans to challenge Young yet, but former State Senator Matt McCoy is widely considered likely to run–even if he’s not the first choice of Democratic insiders in Washington. Former State Senate candidate Desmund Adams has been talking to Democratic activists around the district for the past several months. Former Governor Chet Culver said earlier this year that he would consider running in IA-03. I haven’t heard much chatter about Culver lately, but Pat Rynard sees him “taking a very serious look” at the race and for various reasons put Culver at the top of his “power rankings” on the IA-03 Democratic primary. I would consider McCoy a slight favorite in a primary battle against Culver and Adams.

EMILY’s List leaders were in Des Moines last week, having put David Young on their list of Republicans who should be “on notice.” That PAC endorses and helps to direct like-minded donors toward pro-choice Democratic women candidates. I’m not aware of any women considering the IA-03 race now that Appel has ruled herself off, so I wonder whether EMILY’s List came to town seeking to recruit someone else. After Representative Tom Latham announced his retirement plans, some local Democrats were hoping State Senator Janet Petersen would run in IA-03, but Petersen hasn’t expressed any interest in serving in Congress. She is much more likely to run for governor in 2018.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.

UPDATE: Forgot to mention that Jim Mowrer, who challenged Representative Steve King in IA-04 in 2014, recently moved to Des Moines from Boone. Ha reportedly has not ruled out running against Young.

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