Washington Bureau

08.27.14

Iowa Lawmaker's Plea Deal Could Get Awkward for Rand Paul

State Sen. Kent Sorenson’s guilty plea could implicate campaign staffers linked to the Kentucky senator through his father.

Former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to endorsing former Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign in exchange for secret payments and then lying about the payoff to investigators. In particular, he admitted “one count of causing a federal campaign committee to falsely report its expenditures to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and one count of obstruction of justice in connection with the concealed expenditures.” The plea bargain prevents Sorenson from facing prosecution for allegedly being paid in secret to support Michele Bachmann’s campaign before jumping ship to back Paul and guarantees that his wife also will not face criminal charges.

None of the allegations around Sorenson directly involve either Ron or Rand Paul, but they do involve top staffers on the Ron Paul campaign. Sorenson’s wife allegedly accepted a $25,000 check from Dimtri Kesari, Ron Paul’s deputy campaign manager in 2012, and other key figures in Paul’s political orbit like Jesse Benton, who was Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign chairman and was Rand’s campaign manager in his 2010 Senate race. 

If Sorenson’s plea deal involves further testimony against any of these operatives, things could get awkward for Rand Paul. After all, while the only Ron Paul staffer linked to Sorenson to have worked for Rand Paul is Benton, all of those named have long-standing ties to the Paul family’s political efforts through organizations like National Right to Work, and legal issues for even one of them would be embarrassing for Paul 2016. After all, nothing good can happen for your presidential campaign when federal prosecutors start issuing subpoenas to your father’s former staffers.