Former presidential candidate Ron Paul’s campaign negotiated to purchase the endorsement of an Iowa state senator who had previously endorsed Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R-Minn., according to emails obtained by Opensecrets.org.
“In an Oct. 29, 2011 email, a representative of Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, a Republican, asks the Paul campaign to provide Sorenson with $8,000 per month in salary for him, $5,000 per month in salary for a Sorenson ally, as well as $100,000 in contributions for a newly created PAC that Sorenson planned to use to support conservative candidates for Iowa state office,” Opensecrets.org explained.
The push for “conservative candidates” had a 2016 angle. “[W]e’ll need to elect more Paul supporting legislators assuming (and this could certainly be a mistake) a Rand Paul run in 2016,” one of the emails, allegedly written by Iowa Gun Owners executive director Aaron Door as he tried to negotiate on behalf of Sorenson, explains.
That aspect of the deal, at least, never came to fruition. “According to a review of Iowa campaign finance records, the Iowa Conservatives Fund PAC, for which Dorr allegedly wanted $100,000, received no contributions from the Paul campaign or anyone affiliated with it,” Opensecrets.org notes. “In fact, it has raised no funds at all and other than a $506 debt for bank account charges from Dec. 2011, appears to be dormant.”
Former Ron Paul aide Dennis Fusaro, who provided the emails to Opensecrets, said that he doesn’t know if the parties ever struck the deal. Sorenson, who did eventually switch his endorsement from Bachmann to Paul, is under investigation by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee because a former Bachmann campaign accused him of selling his support to Paul’s Minnesota rival.
Sorenson denied cutting a deal with Paul. “I wasn’t part of this conversation,” he told the Des Moines Register. “I’m not even sure if the discussion happened, but if it did happen, I wasn’t part of it. I didn’t give anyone authority to have this discussion (about being paid).”
Jesse Benton, a Ron Paul aide now managing the re-election bid of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also emailed with Dorr about the Sorenson endorsement, according to an email released by Opensecrets.org.
“The window is still open, but it will close in the next few days,” Benton wrote in a Nov. 14, 2011, message.