Ex-Lawmaker Pleads Guilty To Switching Loyalties For Money

FILE - In this Dec 30, 2011, file photo, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, Iowa chairman Kent Sorenson introduces Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, during a campaign stop in Sioux Center... FILE - In this Dec 30, 2011, file photo, former Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn, Iowa chairman Kent Sorenson introduces Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, during a campaign stop in Sioux Center, Iowa. Sorenson resigned from office Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2013, after investigator Mark Weinhardt’s report concluded Sorenson likely broke ethics rules in receiving $7,500 in monthly income from Bachmann’s political action committee and presidential campaign in exchange for working as Bachmann’s state chair in 2011. The state senator received a $25,000 check from a high-ranking official in Ron Paul’s presidential campaign days before ditching Michele Bachmann to support Paul, and eventually received $73,000 in payments that may be linked to Paul’s campaign, the independent investigator has found. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, file) MORE LESS
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DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A former Iowa lawmaker has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his switch of support from one Republican candidate for president to another before the 2012 caucuses, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Former state Sen. Kent Sorenson received thousands of dollars in “under the table payments” before switching loyalties from U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, whose state campaign he headed in Iowa, to then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, and then lying to federal investigators about the money, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Prosecutors refused to say which campaign paid him.

Sorenson was seen as a key endorsement early in the 2012 Iowa campaign, as a popular figure in the emerging tea party movement. Iowa’s presidential caucuses are closely-watched early tests of campaign strength and candidate popularity.

Sorenson was named Bachmann’s state campaign chairman in June 2011, but Bachmann’s rise had stalled by that fall. Six days before the Iowa caucuses, Sorenson announced his support for Paul.

In the plea agreement, Sorenson admitted receiving and lying about monthly payments of roughly $8,000 from October to December 2011, when he was still named Bachmann’s state chairman.

He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and causing a campaign to falsely report expenditures. Sorenson could face up to 20 years in prison for obstruction of justice, and as many as five years on the second charge.

Messages left by The Associated Press with Sorenson and representatives for Bachmann and Paul weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Sorenson, 42, resigned from the Iowa Senate a year ago, less than three years after his election. However, he has said his decision was “absolutely not” an admission of wrongdoing.

His resignation came just hours after Mark Weinhardt, a special prosecutor asked to investigate whether Sorenson had broken Iowa Senate rules, released a report saying it was “manifestly clear” Sorenson negotiated payments in 2011 in exchange for his work as Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chair.

Such payments violate the state Senate’s rules that forbid any sitting lawmaker from being paid by a campaign while in office.

The criminal complaint against Sorenson came after questions emerged during the Senate ethics committee investigation about his role in the Bachmann campaign.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Notable Replies

  1. Who could have possibly guessed that a fraudster would be connected to a Tea Party candidate and a Libertarian candidate.

  2. Prosecutors refused to say which campaign paid him.

    Huh? Are they suggesting that the Bachmann campaign paid him to jump ship? Or that the DNC coughed up the money?

    There’s another shoe to be dropped here, and I’m willing to wager that it should be dropped on the Ron Paul campaign’s head.

  3. An unprincipled Teabagger!

    Who woulda thunk it?

    i mean this guy was such a big Joe Gun Nut that before he quit the state senate, he voted for a bill legalizing the hunting of bunnies.

    You read right. Bunnies!

    How on earth could a man such as THIS be unprincipled?

  4. Now we knows how the Paul machine does business. Remember this when we get closer to the election and the Rand Paul endorsements come rolling in.

  5. Um, it is my inmagination or does this guy look like a combination of a prison guard fired for excessive brutality and Ming the Merciless?

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