Former GOP Lawmaker Kent Sorenson Gets 15 Months for Caucus Payoff Scandal

Former state Sen. Kent Sorenson, R-Milo, has been sentenced to 15 months in federal prison for secretly accepting a $73,000 bribe from three Ron Paul campaign aides in exchange for switching his endorsement from then-Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann ahead of the 2012 Iowa caucuses.

On Tuesday morning, Robert Pratt, the federal judge on the case, reportedly called Sorenson’s actions the “definition of political corruption.” The former lawmaker pleaded guilty to violating federal election law and lying under oath to a special prosecutor appointed by the state Senate Ethics Committee whose report led to Sorenson’s resignation in October 2013.

After the scandal emerged, Sorenson faced additional legal problems, including an arrest for an alleged domestic assault and a lawsuit over unpaid credit card bills. He also violated his probation for the caucus scandal charges on three separate occasions for smoking pot.

According to the Des Moines Register, Sorenson told Pratt Tuesday that, during his time as a politician, “I was cocky and filled with misguided ideas.” Last fall, Sorenson testified that politics was a “waste of my life, and I wish I hadn’t done it.”

The Paul aides implicated in the caucus scandal — campaign chairman Jesse Benton, campaign manager John Tate, and deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari — were previously convicted for their roles. Benton and Tate were sentenced to two years of probation; Kesari got three months in prison.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.