A special investigator in Iowa has found that state Sen. Kent Sorenson (R) violated legislative ethics rules when he took money from campaign committees connected to Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) failed 2012 presidential bid.
Mark Weinhardt, a specially-appointed independent counsel to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, submitted a lengthy report to the Iowa Senate on Wednesday, according to The Des Moines Register. Weinhardt’s report also found that false statements made by Sorenson during the investigation may warrant felony criminal charges. The report is the latest development in the lingering scandals surrounding Bachmann’s failed presidential bid.
The payments in question went to a company called Grassroots Strategies, Inc., which was wholly owned by Sorenson, according to the Register. Payments came from both the Bachmann For President campaign committee and MichelePAC, a leadership political action committee she set up. Bachmann ended up placing sixth in the Iowa GOP presidential caucuses and eventually dropped out of the race.
“We believe it was a plain violation of Senate Ethics Rule 6 for Senator Sorenson to accept compensation from MichelePAC to work on Representative Bachmann’s behalf,” Weinhardt writes in the report.
The money from the presidential campaign may fall into a grey area — the report indicates that money presents “a question of interpretation” of the Senate rule.
The report also found that Sorenson was given a $25,000 check from a senior official in former Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-TX) presidential campaign.
Back in January, Bachmann’s former national field coordinator, Peter Waldron, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing both Bachmann’s campaign and MichelePAC of campaign finance violations. Among other things, Waldron alleged that the campaign concealed payments to Sorenson, who served as Bachmann’s Iowa state campaign chairman before bolting for the Paul camp.