Andy Parrish, a former chief of staff and campaign staffer for Minnesota Congressman Michele Bachmann, plans to come forward with emails next week that he believes prove State Senator Kent Sorenson, a Milo Republican, illegally accepted nearly $40,000 in campaign cash, according to another staffer, Peter Waldron, a Tampa, Florida, outreach leader.
Waldron told Channel 13 news late Thursday afternoon that Parrish has emails between Sorenson and staffers that detail the arrangements that funneled Bachmann campaign cash through a Colorado consulting firm, C & M Strategies, a firm owned by the Bachmann campaign’s former fundraiser Guy Short.
Waldron first told senators about the allegations back in January but Parrish remained anonymous until Thursday. Waldron said Parrish initially wanted the senate ethics committee, which is looking into the allegations against Sorenson, to subpoena Parrish to testify. Waldron said Parrish felt future employers would forgive him for “snitching” on a former employer if they understand he had no legal choice but to testify. Waldron said, “We’d either call you a whistleblower or a rat or a stool pigeon. We have imported perjoratives to anyone who reports a crime.”
But Waldron said Parrish found out the ethics committee can only subpoena Iowans to testify, not people from out of state. So with the legislative session scheduled to end next month, Waldron said Parrish felt like he had no choice but to voluntarily share what he knew.
Both Bachmann and Sorenson have maintained they have done nothing improper. Sorenson didn’t want to comment on the ongoing investigation Thursday. But he has said previously, that while he didn’t accept any campaign cash, he legally could have under senate ethics rules. He said the rules show he can’t receive money from a political action committee, but he could receive money from a campaign. He feels the final section in Rule 6 of the Iowa Senate Ethics Rules would permit that. However, other statehouse observers have cast doubt on that. They point to the line in the rules about accepting money from a political action committee, when the rules say “either directly or indirectly”.
This is Rule 6 of the Iowa Senate Ethics Rules:
6. EMPLOYMENT. A senator shall not accept employment, either directly or indirectly, from a political action committee or from an organization exempt from taxation under section 501(c)(4), 501(c)(6), or 527 of the Internal Revenue Code that engages in activities related to the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate for public office. A senator may accept employment from a political party, but shall disclose the employment relationship in writing to the secretary of the senate within ten days after the beginning of each legislative session. If a senator accepts employment from a political party during a legislative session, the senator shall disclose the employment relationship within ten days after acceptance of the employment.
For the purpose of this rule, a political action committee means a committee, but not a candidate’s committee, which accepts contributions, makes expenditures, or incurs indebtedness in the aggregate of more than seven hundred fifty dollars in any one calendar year to expressly advocate the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate for public office or to expressly advocate the passage or defeat of a ballot issue or influencing legislative action, or an association, lodge, society, cooperative, union, fraternity, sorority, educational institution, civic organization, labor organization, religious organization, or professional organization which makes contributions in the aggregate of more than seven hundred fifty dollars in any one calendar year to expressly advocate the nomination, election, or defeat of a candidate for public office or ballot issue or influencing legislative action.”
Senator Wally Horn, a Cedar Rapids Democrat, declined comment on Parrish’s allegations until he receives a copy of the affidavit Parrish is expected to send to the Iowa Secretary of the Senate next week.