Panel doesn't act on complaint tied to Bachmann

  • Article by: CATHERINE LUCEY
  • Associated Press
  • February 13, 2013 - 3:31 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa - A state Senate ethics committee said Wednesday it won't take immediate action on a complaint filed against a Republican senator accused of taking improper payments from Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign.

Committee members voted 5-1 against taking any further action unless "further substantiating information" was offered related to the complaint filed Jan 28 by former Bachmann aide Peter Waldron against Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Milo. Waldron said Bachmann for President tried to conceal payments to Sorenson of $7,500 a month for about six months by running the money through a political action committee with ties to the Minnesota congresswoman.

The Senate has an ethics ban on paid employment with political campaigns. During the meeting, Sen. Sandra Greiner, R-Washington, said she felt the information provided wasn't sufficient to move forward.

"What we had in that packet was a bunch of fuzzy stuff and very few facts," Greiner said.

The committee also voted to take no immediate action on Waldron's charge that Sorenson stole an email list from a Bachmann supporter. In July, former Iowa campaign staffer Barb Heki sued Bachmann and her campaign, alleging that Sorenson stole a private list.

That matter is under investigation by the Urbandale police and no charges have been filed. The committee said they did not want to get involved in an issue already under investigation.

Davenport Democratic Sen. Joe Seng voted against the committee, saying he'd prefer to ask the Iowa Supreme Court to appoint an investigator to probe the claims.

"To sit and wait to see if we have more information forthcoming, it's a little bit iffy," he said.

Sorenson, who did not attend the hearing, released a statement Wednesday saying he was looking forward to putting the matter behind him.

"This baseless distraction does not change the fact that we have Iowans out of work, a property tax system desperately in need of reform and Constitutional rights that we need to be fighting for," he said in the statement.

Waldron said he understood the committee's position and pledged to try to find more evidence. He also expressed hope that a complaint he filed with the Federal Election Commission about Bachmann's alleged campaign finance problems would yield more information that could be used by the Senate committee.

Grenier said she felt data from the FEC would probably be usable, though she declined to speak for the entire committee.

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