Curtain falls on Kent Sorenson's political career

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 first volume of the report is available here. 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?

end for Kent Sorenson photo Screenshot2013-10-02at52614PM_zps39055d07.png

Excerpts from Kent Sorenson’s e-mail to constituents on October 2:

Many of you might be aware that there have been allegations made against me in regards to my involvement during the 2012 presidential election cycle. Throughout this process, I have maintained my innocence in relation to the specific allegations against me.

I’ve made mistakes and missteps along the way. I said things that should have been worded differently, I said things out of fear and at times I stumbled.

But I did not do anything illegal. I never did anything that was against the Iowa Senate Ethics Rules as they are written.

More importantly to me and my family, however, I did not do anything I believe was immoral.

The “investigation” from the outset has been a sham. My attackers were never required to substantiate the claims they made against me or exactly how I “broke the Iowa senate rule.”

But when the committee charged with doing their due diligence in weighing the truthfulness of the allegations against me shirked their duty and referred the baseless complaint to the Iowa Supreme Court for investigation, it became clear where the train was heading.

It became an honest, straight-up political witch hunt.

I have never made a secret of my feelings toward the Iowa Supreme Court. They believe and have for several years that they have the power to legislate from the bench. I happily and publicly helped in the effort to remove them from the bench in 2010, and was even happier to run against the spouse of one of these supreme jurists.

So what did the court do?

They took their revenge out on me by appointing a fox to investigate the hen-house.

The investigator’s family, according to a quick search of the Iowa Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board, appears to only have a history of donating money to Democrat candidates. The game was rigged from the beginning.

After sitting down with the investigator, it was clear his mind was already made up, and anything I had to say was irrelevant to the foregone conclusion.

More than that, the investigator was given broad and liberal interpretive powers of the senate rules, in the same fashion that some folks interpret the US Constitution to have different “interpretations” when it comes to our rights.

And the report of his “investigation” makes that clear and evident. I followed the letter of the law in regards to the Senate rule, but it did not matter.

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  • About time

    Sorenson has been a sleezeball since day one. Bottom of the septic tank that is the Iowa GOP

  • There appears to be quite a civil war in the gop

    with the dominionist Ron Paul supporters.  I am surprised you aren’t giving it more attention.

    Sorenson pushed the deregulation of homeschooling in Iowa.  I wonder if this means Brandstadt is having second thoughts, about going along with it.  Surprisingly the homeschoolers themselves and Caffeinated Thoughts are turning on him so the revelation that are not out yet must be worse that what we know so far.

    I notice that alot of these Ron Paul types, like Sorenson and Striker, don’t give us much information about what they did before taking official gop offices.  I wonder if some of them have extremist out of state backgrounds.  I have always thought the residency requirements in Iowa made the caucuses very vulnerable to out of state gaming.

    • I don't have time

      to write about all the topics that interest me, but you are always welcome to post a diary.

      I don’t think Branstad has regrets about the homeschooling deregulation, nor do I believe that Branstad played a major role in Sorenson’s demise. Clearly some Republicans were happy to boot him out the door, though–otherwise the former henchman from Ron Paul’s campaign wouldn’t have dumped all those documents on Craig Robinson.

  • Sorensen

    I have a feeling from an electoral perspective Dems would have been better off having Sorensen on the ballot.  Of course we shouldn’t have a liar and such a camera hog in office though. I still think the Iowa caucus is a fairly significant tourism draw, despite some people claiming a minimal economic impact.  

    I know lawyers that were here from Indiana for weeks when my mother was volunteering for the Edwards campaign.  

    • definitely

      the seat would have been in play with Sorenson on the ballot, but we are all better off with him out of the Iowa Senate. Tolerating his behavior would be a disaster for the future of the Iowa caucuses.

      The 2008 caucuses might have been the most economically beneficial caucuses because of the competition in both parties, and because the three big Democratic campaigns opened dozens of field offices each.

  • Ruth

    I know I am repeating myself, but sure would like to see Carlisle Mayor Ruth Randelman run for the Senate seat. She would be a good legislator. I know I know the District is too red. Darn it.  Maybe people have had enough of crazy in Warren and Madison counties.  

    • she might be interested

      but it’s hard for me to see her winning a special district nominating convention. The Warren County GOP activists are way out there.

    • Not anytime soon,,,

      Randelman would be brutalized in ads for her leadership of the Project Destiny proposal (worst planning proposal ever…even using very misleading ads), and her current leadership of the widely panned Tomorrow Plan (rain collection barrels for all!).

      Non starter once her real story gets out.

      • I forgot

        that she supported Project Destiny. It was a terrible idea, though I suspect mirage and I opposed it for different reasons.

        The Tomorrow Plan is actually wise planning, but I wouldn’t expect you to acknowledge that.

        • Tomorrow Plan

          Yeah…that crazy Tomorrow Plan…it is a United Nations plot for world government…municipal planning, cooperation among local governments…the world has gone mad, I tell you, MAD !  

        • "wise planning"...really???

          Tomorrow Plan quotes from the Des Moines Register:

          “Ankeny joins other communities in voicing skepticism”

          “Councilman Dave Kissinger noted there has been some unfavorable reaction from other Des Moines area communities….”

          “Councilwoman  Bobbi Bentz attended a Tomorrow Plan meeting of communities from the west and northwest side …and characterized the gathering as “not really positive”.”

          “there is a lot in this plan that …isn’t really backed up with any evidence.” Bentz said.

          “goals, outcomes, and objectives were established before there was any community input.  The objectives were very specific and do not represent community opinion.”

          “Delphi techniques were used to determine policy choices, e. g. (predetermined policy choices).  This approach does not facilitate creating public input but rather forces citizens into affirming the predetermined choice.  The goal was involvement, but not input.”

          Most damming of all, “The Tomorrow Plan results from the responding population do not reflect the demographics of the City”  Only 5% of responses came from those 55 and older, who account for 20% of the population, “inferring taxpayers were substantially underrepresented.  The difficulty with this outcome is that the results are being published without reference to the inaccuracies of the population statistics.”

          When confronted with the last point, leadership of The Tomorrow Plan responded in an email” “It is important to remember that Design My DSM (the tool to get input to the plan) was not intended to be a statistically valid survey.”

          Millions of dollars spent, to NOT get a valid survey.  Thus, The Tomorrow Plan is simply a glorified YP wish list, and not at all the “wise planning” asserted by desmoinesdem, or endorsed by others that obviously have not looked at this process even superficially.