October 3, 2013 9:37 am -

Michele BachmannThe mainstream press has been oddly silent about the growing scandal surrounding alleged illegal use of campaign money from a political action committee tied to Michele Bachmann. They shouldn’t be quiet for long: the scandal has claimed its first scalp, that of an Iowa state senator, who has abruptly resigned.

Sen. Kent Sorenson told The Associated Press that he had already decided he would not run for re-election, and that his resignation was best for his family. He said his decision was “absolutely not” an admission of wrongdoing. “I’ve spent money fighting this that I shouldn’t have. I’m just not going to do that to my family anymore,” he said in a telephone interview.

His resignation came after attorney Mark Weinhardt said in a report released earlier in the day that it was “manifestly clear” Sorenson negotiated payments in 2011 that eventually reached $7,500 monthly in exchange for his work as Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chair. The money flowed from Bachmann’s political action committee, MichelePAC, and her presidential campaign to a Colorado consulting firm, which in turn paid Sorenson’s Iowa-based firm, Weinhardt wrote in the report filed with the Iowa Senate.

Sorenson’s compensation from MichelePAC is a violation of a Senate rule that bars senators from being paid by political action committees, Weinhardt wrote. Senators will have to decide whether the payments from her presidential campaign also violate the rule since it is unclear, he wrote.

Sorenson knew that accepting the compensation was improper, and later made false statements when he denied that he had taken money tied to Bachmann entities, Weinhardt wrote. Those statements might amount to misconduct in office, a felony that would also be a violation of the ethics rules, the investigator added.

Weinhardt was appointed to investigate an ethics complaint filed against Sorenson by a former Bachmann aide. Weinhardt’s report went to the Senate Ethics Committee, which is expected to meet to consider the report and what to do about it.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.