During a live interview on CNN, Kent Sorenson was asked if he is a sellout. “Absolutely not,” was the Iowa state senator’s reply. He got the first part right. Whether or not he is getting paid for his endorsement of Ron Paul, Sorenson sold out.
By his own admission, Sorenson deserted Michele Bachmann for Ron Paul because Paul has a chance to win the Iowa Caucus and Bachmann does not. That absolutely does meet the criteria of a sell out. And this is not the first time Kent Sorenson abandoned his principles for personal gain. More on that in a moment.
First, let’s get to the money issue. Kent Sorenson denies that he was offered or accepted any money from the Ron Paul campaign. I believe that is true. Sorenson could also claim he was not paid any money by Michele Bachmann’s campaign. That would also be true. At least, that would be a half-truth. It does not tell the whole story.
There is no paper trail to prove this, other than his own pay stubs or bank account receipts, but well-placed sources indicate Kent Sorenson was paid money by a third party to serve as Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chair. And he was paid well.
It will not show up on any FEC reports, because the entity that paid Sorenson is not technically aligned with the campaign. Sorenson was not a volunteer. Chairing Bachmann’s campaign was his full-time job. With a large family to feed and new house to pay for, it strains credulity to believe that Kent Sorenson was working for Michele Bachmann for free.
So, let’s use that knowledge and look at Sorenson’s statements regarding receiving payment from Ron Paul’s campaign. “The fact of the matter is, I did not accept any money from the Ron Paul campaign,” he said on Fox News. Upon further questioning from FNC’s Megyn Kelly, Sorenson again parses his words very carefully.
Kelly: You’re also saying they never offered it. No one. Not Ron Paul, not anybody affiliated with his campaign or supporting his campaign offered you any money to support Ron Paul.
Sorenson: I was…I was…I was…I was never offered a nickel from the Ron Paul campaign.
Kelly: Or anybody associated with it.
Sorenson: Never offered a nickel.
Earlier in the interview, Sorenson attempted to deflect the charge that his endorsement was bought and paid for. “The real crutch of the matter is going to come out in a week when the financial reports come out. I mean, you can look at Ron Paul’s expenditures and it will be very clear,” Sorenson said on Fox News.
Again, the FEC reports will not provide any proof of whether Paul is paying Sorenson or not. If Sorenson is getting paid, the money will not come directly from Ron Paul’s campaign. It would be through a third party that does not have to disclose it to the FEC. It is a violation of Iowa Senate ethics rules to be on the payroll of a presidential candidate.
Now, let’s examine the statements from three people close to Kent Sorenson. All three say Sorenson told them he was offered a large sum of money to endorse Ron Paul. Sorenson claims all three are lying.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann: “He told me he was offered money. He was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign.” Sorenson says that conversation never took place.
Susan Geddes, who ran Sorenson’s 2008 and 2010 campaigns, and is not a Bachmann supporter: “He told me quite a few times that he was getting pressure to endorse Ron Paul and was being offered large sums of money.” Geddes said the most recent conversation was in November. “I didn’t have that conversation with Susan,” Sorenson claims.
Eric Woolson, who is Bachmann’s Iowa campaign director, offered specifics: “One of the things that he had said in the conversations repeatedly was that he had been offered $30,000 dollars upfront, and that he was going to be offered $8,000 dollars a month for as long as Ron Paul was in the campaign.”
According to WHO-TV, Sorenson had explained that the money wouldn’t come from the campaign directly, but instead from a consulting firm or some other entity, Woolson said.
Who should we believe? Kent Sorenson, who deserted Michele Bachmann in the final week of the campaign to join a frontrunner? Or should we believe three people close to Sorenson, which include a sitting U.S. congresswoman, a co-worker who offers specifics about the financial arrangement, and someone who ran two campaigns for Sorenson?
As for Wes Enos, the Bachmann staffer who was let go after he defended Sorenson and claimed the arrangement with Paul was “in no way financially motivated”. One can only wonder what Sorenson told Enos. Was it a half-truth, that the Paul campaign offered no money? Or did Sorenson also assure Enos that no consulting firm or third party agreed to pay Kent Sorenson?
As I mentioned earlier, regardless of whether Sorenson is getting money for his endorsement of Ron Paul or not, he is a sellout. Although we cannot find out the true details of a financial arrangement with Paul through FEC reports, his previous history of selling out can be discovered in Iowa’s campaign disclosure reports.
Sorenson became an “anti-establishment” hero to many Iowa conservatives when he ripped Senator Chuck Grassley in an open letter. He solidified that status when he endorsed Bob Vander Plaats in the GOP gubernatorial primary and stated “under no conditions will I vote for Terry Branstad for governor.”
However, whom did Sorenson run to when he needed help raising money for his senate campaign against well-funded incumbent Staci Appel? That’s right. He kissed Branstad’s brass ring. The money trail spells it all out.
On October 5, 2010, Sorenson’s state senate campaign received a $10,000 donation from the Team Iowa PAC. That is a political action committee chaired by Nick Ryan, a Branstad supporter. Team Iowa PAC receives most of its funding from Bruce Rastetter, who also happens to be Terry Branstad’s largest donor. Rastetter gave Team Iowa PAC $56,000 in 2010.
The only other state senate candidates to receive funding from Team Iowa PAC in 2010 were Sandy Greiner, who got $22,500, and Bill Dix, who received one $250 donation. Greiner was the chair of the Draft Branstad movement and Branstad later recruited her to run for the Iowa Senate.
Sorenson’s senate campaign also received $12,500 from Iowans for Tax Relief, a group that endorsed Branstad, employed his son and used by be run by Branstad’s campaign director and current chief of staff Jeff Boeyink.
To save face, Sorenson could not publicly endorse Branstad. So he did the next best thing. He endorsed Branstad’s lieutenant governor nominee, Kim Reynolds. Sorenson’s chosen gubernatorial candidate, Bob Vander Plaats, attempted a coup at the Republican state convention. He tried to force his way into being Branstad’s running mate.
So, the night before the convention, Kent Sorenson publicly expressed his support for Kim Reynolds. He also appeared with Branstad and Reynolds at campaign events, even introducing Reynolds at an event in Winterset just two days before the November 2010 elections.
Given Sorenson’s previous statements, that behavior seems quite odd for someone who claimed “under no conditions will I vote for Terry Branstad for governor”. The truth is, Kent Sorenson places politics over principles. He is not anti-establishment. He is anti-anyone who cannot help him get ahead. Five days before the Iowa Caucus, Kent Sorenson deserted Michele Bachmann for a candidate more likely to win. Whether money was involved or not, it was a disgraceful betrayal and a sell out.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com