by Devin Henry
The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee has asked the state Supreme Court to appoint an investigator to look into allegations that Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign improperly paid former staffer Kent Sorenson.
The committee voted 4-2 to ask for the investigator after reviewing an affidavit from former Bachmann aide Andy Parrish, who said the campaign had agreed to pay Sorenson, a state senator, $7,500 for his work as Bachmann’s Iowa chairman, despite state ethics rules barring such payments.
Parrish filed the affidavit, complete with emails between Sorenson and Bachmann political aides and consultants, last week. Sorenson told the committee Wednesday that he did nothing wrong.
The Des Moines Register has details:
Sorenson said Wednesday he was cooperating fully with the committee and he provided new affidavits from individuals who supported his innocence on both allegations.
“I have done everything I can to prove my innocence and address the allegations initiated by politicos who have an ax to grind. This has become a witch-hunt and it is time to put it to rest,” Sorenson said in a prepared statement. He declined further comment as he walked to an Iowa Senate Republican Caucus meeting Wednesday afternoon.
Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, said it was important to fully investigate the claims to avoid the appearance that the Senate was attempting to sweep the allegations under the rug. He warned that the integrity of the Iowa’s caucus process was at stake because Sorenson had a prominent role in Bachmann’s Iowa campaign.
“We are the first in the nation and we want Iowa politics to be as clean as we can be,” Horn said. …
Horn said it will likely be months before an investigative report is returned to the committee. The committee could then schedule a hearing or dismiss the complaint. Ultimately, the committee could recommend a reprimand or censure, or it could recommend expulsion from the Senate. The full Senate would have to make a determination on any sanctions.
After Parrish’s affidavit went public last week, a Bachmann lawyer called the matter, “a dispute is between the Iowa Senate and an Iowa senator: It has nothing whatsoever to do with Congresswoman Bachmann or her political committees.”
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