Former Iowa lawmaker pleads guilty after switching endorsement

A former Iowa state senator pleaded guilty Wednesday to concealing $73,000 in under-the-table payments in exchange for his support for former Rep. Ron Paul's (R-Texas) 2012 presidential campaign. 

ADVERTISEMENT
Kent Sorenson (R) resigned from office last year after a state ethics committee report detailed allegations against him involving the presidential campaigns of Paul and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.).

According to the Justice Department, Sorenson pleaded guilty to causing a federal campaign committee to file false campaign finance reports and obstructing an investigation by lying to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee about the charges.

Sorenson's endorsement was sought after in the 2012 GOP caucus in Iowa, the first in the nation. Sorenson had supported and worked for Bachmann for months leading up to the Iowa Caucus. But days before the election, he publicly switched his support to Paul's campaign.

Neither Paul nor Bachmann are directly referenced in the Justice Department release announcing the guilty plea.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said the two presidential campaigns were not specifically named because court rules bar them from naming parties that are not charged.

When asked if either campaign is under investigation, Carr said he could not speak to any individual, but said "this remains an ongoing investigation."

"Sorenson admitted that he had supported one campaign for the 2012 presidential election, but from October to December 2011, he met and secretly negotiated with a second political campaign to switch his support to that second campaign in exchange for concealed payments that amounted to $73,000," the Justice Department statement reads.

The money from the presidential campaign was given to him in $8,000 installments that were funneled through two companies before reaching Sorenson and his wife, the DOJ added.

The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee report last year found there was strong suspicion that Paul's campaign either directly or indirectly provided the money.

Both candidates ended up losing the caucus to former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) came in a close second and eventually won the nomination.