August 27, 2014 11:20 pm -

A former Iowa state senator has pleaded guilty in federal court to crimes related to accepting payment from a presidential campaign during Iowa’s 2012 presidential caucus campaign in which he switched his support from one candidate to another.

Kent Sorenson concealed payments he received from then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and then obstructed the investigation into the incident, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a release on Wednesday, The Des Moines Register reports.

[su_center_ad]He pleaded guilty to two counts and now is awaiting sentencing. Sorenson, 42,  could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 for the first count and 20 years in prison and another $250,000 fine for the second.

At the time, Congressman Paul denied making the payments.

Sorenson made a dramatic jump from the presidential campaign of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann to Paul’s campaign in late December, 2011, just days before the caucuses.

Sorenson secretly negotiated with the Paul campaign over a period of months to join the campaign, and received $73,000 in a series of payments to do so.

The Des Moines Register reports:

The problem with that was the manner in which the payments were made: A single $25,000 check was paid to Sorenson’s wife by a company owned by a Paul campaign staffer’s wife, and several monthly payments of $8,000 were routed through a film production company and a second company before being received by Sorenson, circumventing the reporting requirements of the Federal Election Commission.

In public statements when he switched campaigns, Sorenson said he was not being paid. He also provided false testimony to an independent investigator about the payments “in part to obstruct investigations that he anticipated by the FBI and FEC,” according to the Department of Justice.

Sorenson pleaded guilty to one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures to the FEC and one count of obstruction of justice.

“Today, Mr. Sorenson has taken responsibility for his crimes,” said Timothy Gallagher, the acting assistant director in charge of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. “Exploiting the political process for personal gain will not be tolerated, and we will continue to pursue those who commit such illegal actions.”

On behalf of his client, Sorenson’s attorney, F. Montgomery Brown issued a statement.

“Mr. Sorenson’s pleas are part of the process of taking complete responsibility for the series of compounding errors and omissions he engaged in, aided and abetted, and participated in with others,” Brown said. “This is a very sad day for Mr. Sorenson, his family and his friends.”

As part of the plea agreement, Sorenson’s wife, Shawnee, will not be charged in the case….

The guilty plea is the latest turn in a lengthy drama over Sorenson’s role in the Bachmann and Paul campaigns.

Sorenson, a Republican elected to the Iowa Senate in 2010, resigned last October following the release of a damning report by and independent investigator working on behalf of the Senate Ethics Committee.

That report found “probable cause” that Sorenson broke ethics rules by accepting payments from a political action committee associated with Bachmann. The report also said his denials of taking such payment may represent a felony under Iowa law.

The 566-page report focused primarily on Sorenson’s dealings with the Bachmann campaign, but is the most authoritative accounting so far of his presidential campaign activities.

In it, Mark E. Weinhardt, the specially appointed independent counsel to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, reported that Sorenson was paid by the Bachmann campaign and by a Bachmann-controlled political action committee, but filtered the funds through two separate consulting firms.

The report also found that Sorenson received a $25,000 check from a senior official in Paul’s presidential campaign, which he did not cash, and $73,000 in wire transfers that Weinhardt called “deeply suspicious.”

Jesse Benton, who is currently serving as the campaign manager for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell’s 2014 re-election campaign, but was serving on Paul’s campaign, previously denied that there was any sort of payoff involved in getting Sorenson to endorse Paul. It’s not clear if Paul will face charges.

H/T: My buddy @TomCinmidlife with thanks. [su_sky_ad]

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.

15 responses to Iowa Republican Pleads Guilty For Accepting ‘Under-The-Table Payments’ From Ron Paul’s Campaign

  1. tiredoftea August 27th, 2014 at 11:25 pm

    What, money is not speech, even if it’s whispered and laundered? Libertarian political campaigns at their finest!

    • Eric Trommater August 27th, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Actually this goes to prove that money is speech. The bribers are not facing any punishment. So it is legal to buy an endorsement it just isn’t legal to sell one.

      • tiredoftea August 28th, 2014 at 12:17 am

        A distinction without a difference!

    • granpa.usthai August 28th, 2014 at 1:30 am

      sooner than later the Republican corruption was bound to have it’s influence on them.

  2. Tommy6860 August 28th, 2014 at 12:05 am

    I’m wondering how Mitch McConnell’s campaign manager avoids the scrutiny since he was a high ranking member Ron Paul’s campaign at that time. Mitch will having to answer, err I mean, embarrassingly deflect any questions regarding this whole mess. Jesse Benton just happens to follow me on twitter too but that account hasn’t been active since late 2012. He now has another twitter account under the @LibertyPAC handle 🙂

  3. Obewon August 28th, 2014 at 12:05 am

    It’s the Grand Ole felons Party saving ‘Merica by doing all they can to loose the 2014 midterm elections! The Clown party takes out two of their most popular 2012 candidates with two guilty pleas, with more to come! ‘Michele will look fabulous in a prison orange jumpsuit’-Marcuth Bachmann salivates over her stolen cash, hidden for his hushed use in his sexcapades.

  4. granpa.usthai August 28th, 2014 at 1:27 am

    (GAWD! -I’m cursed by comedy. Every time I see a smiling Republican, I can’t help but think about soiled Ted Nugent’s pride pie).
    ah hem, sorry
    yes, yes, I agree that Republicans in general are crooks, and do exceptionally well at multi criminal conspiracies. (even being part of gun smuggling from local LE’s to various white extremist organizations).
    But Michelle behind bars? (finger wagging no)
    our founding fathers figured sooner or later a scrawny mid-west gal with a halfass decent DU would come along who would be a bit less than bright for a dull bulb. Cruel and unusual punishment use to be banned by the US Constitution before the last batch of Republicans screwed it all up. Nope, I figure making her learn all fifty states and seven territories, plus their capitals (within three states) would suffice.
    White Republicans really do have that ‘pride pie smile’ though.

  5. Roctuna August 28th, 2014 at 7:32 am

    Two questions. Why isn’t Ron Paul’s picture at the top along with the other two? Where’s the indictment for him and his staff? If taking these bribes is illegal, surely paying the bribes is illegal as well.

  6. William August 28th, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Lets take a peak at the herd for the 2016 GOP pasture patty toss. Walker, Christie, Scott. Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Bob McDonnell.
    Don’t the repubs have anybody that’s NOT under indictment, investigation or linked to some sort of felonious activity?
    Wait. TECHNICALLY George H.W. Bush is eligible for a second term.

    • Obewon August 28th, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Jeb maybe blackmailed by the Cheney’s to toss Sr out of a perfectly good airplane…

      • William August 28th, 2014 at 10:39 am

        Liz Cheney?
        You mean bride of Chucky (evil Dad with shotgun sold separately).

    • mea_mark August 28th, 2014 at 9:28 am

      Romney is still available.

      • William August 28th, 2014 at 10:44 am

        “Romney is still available”

    • cwazycajun August 29th, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      maybe they could talk wile e. coyote into running for republicon nominee for president. cause ole wile e is a super genius just like the rest of the republicon feild

  7. Denise August 28th, 2014 at 10:53 am

    The love of money is the root of all evil. Now, what charges will Paul face?