The Wounded Elephant in the Room

Former Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson

Former Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson

I first met Kent Sorenson in 2009 when he was a freshman senator. Shortly after, when he dared to challenge US Senaor Chuck Grassley, I called him fearless. Sorenson was my kind of guy, a liberty-leaning, Christian conservative, willing to stand on principles and not afraid to take on the powers that be. I and the rest of the state learned today, that after resigning his seat under pressure last fall, Sorenson has pleaded guilty to two crimes relating to hiding improper payments he received from a campaign during the 2012 Caucuses. The facts of the case have been well-document by my friends at the Iowa Republican and others. Therefore, I will not spend much time discussing the details. What I find interesting today, is the reactions that I am seeing to Sorenson’s admissions from other Christians, Republicans and Libertarians. (I do want to be careful and acknowledge that these groups — especially here in Iowa — are not mutually exclusive!)

As I talk to people and observe social media, I see five different reactions (again not mutually exclusive) to the Sorenson case”

Pray for the Sorenson family. I think this is important for those of us who are of the same faith. Kent is a brother, yes he brought this upon himself but I cannot imagine what this situation must be like for him and his young family. They still have to face sentencing and the possibility of significant fines and even prison time. I am praying for Kent and his family.

He got what he deserved. I agree, Sorenson violated Senate rules and contrived to encourage a campaign to violate FEC rules in order to hide it.

I cannot wait to see who gets indicted in the two campaigns involved. While I think this is inevitable, I am not at all anxious to see this spread. The revelations that are likely to come out are going to be an unnecessary distraction in a critical election year. We Republicans have the wind at our back and we need to be focusing our energies on winning the US Senate, the Iowa Senate, picking up some US House Seats and election our stellar slate of statewide candidates.

The system makes politicians be poor or independently wealthy. I am paraphrasing a commenter on Steave Deace’s Facebook page. I agree with this sentiment. I may be the only person in America who believes that most politicians are underpaid. Iowa Senators make a base of $25,000 a year. For those who are not independently wealthy, they must then find work (or be self-employed) for the remaining months of the year in a job that allows them the flexibility to carry out their duties year-round. However, anyone who runs for office knows these facts in advance.

No victim, no crime. Also from Deace’s wall. I see this mostly from Libertarian commenters. I might even agree if Sorenson had said, “this is a bad law … and I am going to hold myself to a higher standard and act accordingly no matter what the consequences.” But Sorenson did not, he went to considerable trouble to hide his actions and avoid the consequences. He enlisted others to assist him in this deception and then he lied to his constituents about it. Some may argue that it is acceptable to lie to the Senate ethics investigator or the FBI about a bogus law. But no one can argue that it is acceptable for an elected official, one of our guys, to lie to the people of Iowa.

Just two days ago the Republican Party of Iowa, put out a press release

about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jack Hatch. It seems that Hatch used his position and influence in the Iowa Senate to unilaterally kill a bill that would have personally cost him millions of dollars.

The similarities are striking. No national campaign (much less two) is going to pay an unknown guy from Milo, Iowa tens of thousands of dollars to be their mouthpiece. But a well known freshman firebrand in the Iowa Senate who would be willing to publicly shift his allegiance in the last days before the Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation caucuses … now that would be something worth investing in.

I have long been critical of my fellow Republican State Central Committee members who have used their SCC positions to enrich themselves during campaign season. It should then be no surprise that I am critical of Sorenson as well. If Sorenson had not been a senator, the campaign(s) could have paid him whatever they wanted as a consultant, claimed it on their FEC filings and no one would have complained. What Sorenson sold, was not his services and his endorsement – he sold his Senate seat which belongs, not to him, but to the people of Iowa.