DES MOINES — A second ethics complaint has been filed with the Iowa Senate alleging that Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, violated rules barring senators from being paid directly or indirectly by a political campaign.
Florida resident Peter Waldron, who worked with Sorenson on Michelle Bachmann ‘s 2012 presidential campaign in Iowa, filed charges with the Senate Ethics Committee last week alleging that the legislator conspired to “personally profit” from proceeds tied to a mailing list of home-school families.
Waldron’s complaint also included telephone conversation transcripts regarding alleged negotiations and payments, and a “Sorenson sales pitch” memo regarding the GOP senator’s defection from the Bachmann camp to rival Republican Ron Paul’s presidential campaign prior to Iowa’s first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses during January 2012. The documents and transcripts suggest Sorenson’s wife received but never cashed a check from a Paul campaign official.
Waldron alleges the memo “reveals the motive to remove the list: to personally profit from its possession either in rental fees or in exchange for $100,000+ in salaries and donations to a political action committee (PAC) controlled by Sen. Sorenson,” according to the complaint document.
Sorenson has repeatedly denied that he has violated Iowa Senate ethics rules or that he allowed anyone else to negotiate a payment deal on his behalf. He did not respond to a request for comment Monday.
Mark Weinhardt, a special investigator sought by the Senate Ethics Committee and appointed by the Iowa Supreme Court's chief justice, is probing a separate complaint filed in January alleging that Sorenson received payments while he worked for Bachmann’s presidential campaign in Iowa.
Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, the chairman of the bipartisan Senate committee, said Monday he expects the six-member panel will meet in the coming weeks to get a status report on the ongoing probe and discuss how to proceed.
In his complaint, Waldron said: “I respectfully encourage the Iowa State Ethics Committee to investigate the alleged lies, obfuscations and denials made by the senator from Milo. His conduct alone casts a shadow over the Iowa Senate and the state of Iowa. I have worked at the Iowa Straw Poll and at the Iowa Caucus for various candidates since 2000. I have never seen a darker stain on the fine state of Iowa and her people than this one. The people of Iowa deserve better.”