The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee decided Wednesday afternoon the allegations against Milo Republican Kent Sorenson are serious enough to request the Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice to appoint a special prosecutor to look into them.
Sorenson served as the co-chairman for Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's 2012 Iowa presidential campaign. Six days before the caucus he quit to work for another candidate, Texas Congressman Ron Paul. In recent months, former Bachman staffers alleged Sorenson requested and accepted money on behalf of his work for Bachmann. That would violate senate ethics rules, prohibiting a senator from getting paid to support a presidential candidate.
The committee of six senators, three from each party, voted 4-2 to request the special investigator. Senator Jerry Behn, a Boone Republican, questioned allowing the investigation to move forward. He felt there wasn't enough direct proof Sorenson broke the rules. Behn said, "There's no checks. There's no bank statements. There's no shred of paper evidence."
Senator Joe Seng, a Davenport Democrat, contended the charges were serious enough to merit the investigation, even if the affidavits lacked the bank records Behn would have wanted to see. Seng said, "I would say the gravity of the situation would be the determining factor whether we proceed or not proceed."
A Republican, Senator Sandy Greiner, of Keota, provided the key vote in the decision. She said if she were in Sorenson's position, she would have released all her bank records and her income taxes to show she didn't inappropriately take any money. Sorenson released an affidavit from an accountant that said his Wells Fargo account didn't contain a deposit that would prove the allegation he improperly accepted money. But Greiner said she has more than one account and doesn't know if Sorenson does, too. She said, in the end, the committee can't risk the public backlash if it fails to pursue this investigation. Greiner said, "There's going to be a cloud over this entire chamber if we don't attempt to get to the bottom of this."
Senator Wally Horn, a Cedar Rapids Democrat who chairs the committee, said it could take months for the special prosecutor to complete the investigation.
Sorenson, who has maintained his innocence (read his response to allegations here), released 4 affidavits where people say he didn't take any improper campaign money.
Read them below:
Following the release of the affidavit's former Bachman Staffer and NICHE member Barb Heki released the following statement:
Today's sworn affidavits from Chris Dorr, Wes Enos and Tony Eastman in defense of their close friend Kent Sorenson were welcome news. Although filled with a number of patently false statements, we finally have, after 18 months of investigating the theft, a confession, including statements by others that denote first-hand knowledge of the crime that has received heavy news coverage.
Rich and I are grateful that Mr. Dorr has finally stepped forward in his admission, accompanied by additional admissions by others of knowledge of the crime that they previously had denied for a year and a half, until today.
This public disclosure is a significant milestone. The false statements made about my computer interactions with others are already negated by other testimony and evidence. Further, anyone who infers that I ever gave anyone my personal computer for any reason, or used my personal file of the homeschool database to give information to anyone at any time, or that it was easily available to others, or unknown to them that it was off limits, needs to consider the consequences of perjury, as those are outright fabrications.
Rich and I have complete confidence in the numerous investigative agencies that are currently involved in this situation and we are hopeful that the truth will continue to unveil and justice be served. — Barb Heki