Kent Sorenson clashing with House Republicans over abortion funding

State Senator Kent Sorenson claims to have made some Iowa House Republicans unhappy by helping the advocacy group Iowa Pro-Life Action pressure state representatives over abortion funding. Currently, Iowa’s Medicaid program covers abortions under very limited circumstances. In fact, our state is among the most restrictive in this area. Nevertheless, a compromise worked out on the final day of the 2011 legislative session angered many conservatives. Some Iowa Republicans have pushed for a total ban on Medicaid-funded abortion.

In a Facebook post last night, Sorenson lambasted members of his own party who do not keep their promises on the “pro-life” issue. He claimed that some House Republicans “are considering filing ethics charges against me” because he signed a letter Iowa Pro-Life Action sent to lawmakers. Looking through the Iowa House Code of Ethics, it’s not clear to me which rule Sorenson might have violated. House Republican staffer Josie Albrecht told me by telephone that she was not aware of any pending ethics complaints by legislators against Sorenson.

I enclose the full text of the Facebook post after the jump. At this writing, it has been “shared” by 63 Facebook users, including conservative talk radio hosts Steve Deace and Jan Mickelson.

Sorenson is already facing an ethics investigation related to alleged paid work for Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign. I have been wondering whether Republicans might be better off with a different nominee in Iowa Senate district 13 next year. However, an uncompromising stand against abortion funding would serve Sorenson well if he faced a GOP primary challenger.

Facebook post by Kent Sorenson, May 14:

An open letter to the Iowa Pro-life community

In my five years of elected office here in Iowa I learned that politics, sadly, so often is less about principle and more about simply maintaining the status quo.

More directly, it’s often just about being loyal to a person, or a PAC, or an outside organization than anything else.

If you dare to “buck the establishment,” especially within your own party you are immediately painted as a trouble maker and silenced if possible.

The power brokers have their tricks.

They can remove you from important committee assignments or they can make sure that in the next election cycle you don’t get the same resources (a.k.a. money) that you would have otherwise received – one way or the other they will punish you.

But I didn’t get elected to play patty cake with those who want to raise our taxes, restrict our gun rights, or kill unborn babies…especially those who want to kill unborn babies.

This issue has been important to my wife and me since the day that our first child was born. But it has become even more important in some ways this year, as I became a grandfather for the first time.

As I hold my grandson in my arms I almost cry thinking about the other babies here in Iowa, over 3,000 a year, who are put to death for the crime of being “inconvenient.”

And I get downright angry knowing that Iowa has taxpayer funded abortion, and that part of my tax dollars are going to pay for abortions.

That’s why I’ve fought, since the day I was elected, to put an end to abortion here in Iowa.

If my memory serves me right, I’ve been sponsoring pro-life legislation every single year since I was first elected back in 2009.

While many politicians will sponsor legislation and call it pro-life, it’s often not.

For example, in Minnesota they have been “fighting” to ensure that abortion clinics are sterile before a baby is put to death.

In my case, I’ve proudly sponsored the “Life-at-Conception” bill here for years which would legislatively end abortion in this state once signed into law.

Of course, even filing this legislation greatly alarms some politicians since they may be asked where they stand on this topic.

When I was elected into the House in 2009, the Republicans were in the minority and I spent two years watching my bills die since House Democrats were in charge.

I always told myself that once the Republican Party took over the House or the Senate, things would be different since we’d have the power to shut down taxpayer funded abortion and pass real pro-life bills.

In the Fall of 2010, the voters elected me to serve in the State Senate where I still serve today. Just like when I was in the House, the Democrats have control of this chamber too.

But I was elated to see the GOP take over the House in 2010 knowing that now we’d have the ability to defend unborn life.

But sadly, I was naïve.

You see, while it may be a shock to read this, the Republican controlled House approved taxpayer monies to be spent on abortion in 2011 and 2012.

Babies died as a result.

I’ve done all I can do. I’ve begged, pleaded, and prayed that my former colleagues would find the courage to do what is right but so far that’s not been enough.

So when my friends at Iowa Pro-Life Action asked me to sign a letter that they were mailing out recently, urging the recipients to mail in pre-addressed postcards to their representatives encouraging them to vote NO on taxpayer funded abortion, I happily agreed.

After doing this, I was notified just last night that multiple Republican members of the House of Representatives are considering filing ethics charges against me!

For taking a stand for life.

For trying to end taxpayer sponsored murder.

For daring to call a spade a spade, even when it involves members of my own political party.

But I don’t know what else to do.

I have watched, for years, as politician after politician uses the pro-life issue to solidify his election or re-election.

Then, once safely in office, they do virtually NOTHING to keep their campaign promises.

Enough is enough – either you are pro-life or you’re not.

And so I would call on all of you to join me and Iowa Pro-Life Action in this fight!

Please take a moment to email your State Representative IMMEDIATELY and insist as strongly as you know how that they vote against taxpayer funded abortion.

(The House just adjourned for the week, they may miss your calls so please email instead.)

Allow me to let you in on a little secret.

Often times this bill, the Health and Human Services budget bill (where they sneak in your money for abortion), will be voted on multiple times.

Just last week this bill was voted on and my colleagues voted correctly. This is the vote that they will campaign on.

But the bill now goes to what’s called a “conference committee” – where the leadership from the Senate and House meet together to hash out their differences and come to an agreement on the bill’s final wording.

This is where it matters, this is where the babies live or die.

After the compromise is agreed to, then the revised bill will go back to both chambers for a vote on final passage.

Only this time, it will contain taxpayer dollars for abortion. Too often, our own people vote for this version hoping that voters don’t find out.

So when you contact your legislator, tell them that all you care about is their vote on the bill’s final passage.

Tell them that the time for games is over and that they need to draw a line in the sand and NOT GIVE ONE INCH when it comes to this issue.

Please pray for my family and me.

You’ve likely heard my name in the news lately regarding ethics charges. They are simply not true.

Perhaps giving you an inside look at how easy it is to have “ethics charges” slapped on you if you offend the party power brokers in Des Moines will shed some light on the other “charges” that I’m enduring.

So please pray for my family and me, that we’d have the strength to endure this attack and maintain our fight for the unborn.

Please also do what you can to assist Iowa Pro-Life Action.

I can’t tell you what it means to have an organization share the same grit, determination and principles working side by side with me to defend life – regardless of who stands in that path.

Sending out email alerts, gathering petitions, surveying candidates – this is exactly what Iowa needs.

Please email your representative right away and tell him/her that you’ll be watching their vote on the FINAL PASSAGE of this bill very closely.

And a message to those politicians who are considering filing ethics charges against me for asking them to vote pro-life, know this: I’ll never back down in my defense of unborn life, no matter how many ethics charges you file against me.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

Senator Kent Sorenson


  • Aahh, more "smell of politics in the morning"

    He’s in need of help with the base, thus the tear-jerking melodrama and his closing line with some Jesus talk.

  • Look at Chapter 68B

    If he signed a letter to lawmakers for the lobby group, he may have violated the Ethics Code chapter, rather than the House ethics rules.  The Ethics committees in each chamber are also authorized to hear violations of Chapter 68B, not just the ethics rules of each chamber. (see 68B.31) It sounds from his Facebook comment, however, that the letter went out to the lobby group’s mailing list, not directly to lawmakers.  It would be interesting to see the actual correspondence, and what was signed and what was said.

    68B.5(1) provides that a member of the general assembly “shall not act as a lobbyist during the time in which the person serves or is employed by the state”.  Now, “lobbyist” is pretty narrowly defined under 68B.2(13)(a) — he would have had to have received compensation for signing the letter, or be considered a “designated representative” of the group.  But is someone who advocates a position on behalf of a group considered a designated representative, even if they don’t formally register as a lobbyist?  It seems it might have been advisable to at least seek an advisory opinion from the Senate Ethics committee first. This may be another issue for the independent special counsel to look at, to make a recommendation on whether there’s been a statutory violation, provided that someone files a formal complaint on this issue.

    • thanks, that makes sense

      I have not seen the actual correspondence Sorenson signed for Iowa Pro-Life Action, but I’ll post the text if I’m able to get hold of a copy.

      I don’t see how any Iowa House Republicans could benefit from going after Sorenson on that point. I wonder whether anyone really is considering it, or whether he threw that into his Facebook post for more sympathy points.

  • Idle musings

    Would the Republicans possibly primary KS? He’s causing them so much trouble I wonder if they would cut him loose. They are in no possible danger of losing that district to a D. Speaking of KS civic skinny reports that Staci Appel is getting pressure at the grocery store to reconsider running against Latham.

    • if I were a Republican

      in Senate district 13, I’d be looking for a credible primary challenger. But he has a lot of passionate fans.

  • Did he say that with a straight face?

    “politics, sadly, so often is less about principle and more about simply maintaining the status quo.

    More directly, it’s often just about being loyal to a person”

    . . . complains the guy who switched candidates late in a contested Presidential caucus race!  

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