Hotdish Politics: Iowa Bachmann case brings an overdue revelation

  • Updated: May 4, 2013 - 10:20 PM

Michele Bachmann

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Kevin Diaz

 

Every new revelation about Michele Bachmann’s ill-fated quest for the presidency seems to raise new questions.

On Wednesday, when the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee decided to request an independent counsel to investigate Bachmann’s former state campaign chairman, we got a fresh set of affidavits denying any wrongdoing.

If the new accounts are true — and that is hotly disputed — they are more than a year overdue.

The issue in Iowa is whether state Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s chairman, was improperly paid for his campaign work and whether he took part in taking a proprietary database from another campaign worker’s personal computer.

Sorenson’s new affidavit denies that he was paid directly or indirectly “from any Bachmann entities.” That assertion, contradicting former Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish, is not new.

Nor is it new that Sorenson says he had nothing to do with taking the database, an e-mail list of Iowa home-school families.

What is new is Sorenson’s revelation that “the Urbandale [Iowa] Police have been given the name of the individual who acquired the list.”

A call to round up lists

Accompanying this revelation is the testimony of former Bachmann field staffer Christopher Dorr, who is now Sorenson’s Senate clerk.

It is Dorr, we now know, who took the list. He says so in a five-page affidavit dated April 30, nearly 18 months after the alleged theft in November 2011.

But to Dorr, it was no crime. By his account, which is now part of the police investigation, he occasionally helped solve computer problems for others in the office, including Barb Heki, who had a personal copy of her nonprofit home-school group database.

Dorr admits to downloading a contact list from Heki’s computer, although he is not sure whether this “was the list now in question.” He also says that he did not realize the list was proprietary, that Heki sometimes shared names on the list and that he had no idea the list was on her personal computer.

Dorr said he was simply following a directive “to get all our lists into the campaign so that the campaign could keep in touch with them.”

Reaction: ‘Outright fabrications’

This seemingly innocent explanation is news to Heki, who sued the Bachmann campaign last year after trying for eight months to get an explanation about what happened. Now she has it, and she doesn’t believe it.

She calls Dorr’s assertions “outright fabrications,” adding that he and others supporting his claims need to “consider the consequences of perjury.”

The tardy admission also troubles campaign whistleblower Peter Waldron, one of at least three former Bachmann aides who have given police statements suggesting that the list was deliberately and furtively swiped in an effort to reach Iowa home-schoolers. “Sadly,” Waldron said, “the timing of the affidavits alone fails both the smell and smile tests.”

Going up against Dorr’s affidavit is another by former campaign manager Eric Woolson, who says Sorenson told him right after the incident that “we took it,” and that “we stood watch.”

Dorr’s affidavit will also have to be squared with campaign e-mails submitted to investigators between Waldron, Woolson and campaign consultant Bob Heckman agonizing about what to do about Sorenson.

“Michele is an innocent party here,” Heckman said in a December 2011 exchange. “So I hope we can find a way to make it right without hurting her.”

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