Former Iowa State Senator Ken Sorenson pled guilty of accepting bribes today in Federal Court…but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The New York Times reports:
Mr. Sorenson, 42, of Milo, Iowa, had been the state chairman for the presidential campaign of Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, but then switched his support to former Representative Ron Paul of Texas just days before the state’s caucus.
In a statement filed with his plea agreement, Mr. Sorensen admitted that he agreed to switch his allegiance in exchange for $73,000 in payments. The Justice Department did not name the campaigns involved in the scheme. He has not yet been sentenced.
But that’s all the only illegal shenanigans Sorenson was involved in.
He was also involved in the theft of a valuable mailing list, a theft that involved others who will be caught up in the aftermath of Sorenon turning state’s evidence with today’s plea deal.
Listen to this exclusively obtained audio of Sorenson discussing the mailing list theft.
Well, if the liberals cover it, it must be news now.
I covered the scandal I named #Staffergate for months. (Here’s a one hour podcast I did in December about it.) I said it would end up impacting Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Mitch McConnell.
Today, one shoe dropped as Ken Sorenson pled guilty. The Des Moines Register:
A former Iowa state senator has pleaded guilty in federal court to crimes related to accepting payment from a presidential campaign during Iowa’s 2012 presidential caucus campaign.
Kent Sorenson, of Milo, concealed payments he received from then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign and then obstructed the investigation into the incident, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a release on Wednesday.
He pleaded guilty to two counts and now is awaiting sentencing. Sorenson could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 for the first count and 20 years in prison and another $250,000 fine for the second.
And now MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is covering it.
Two complaints filed this week by a Republican led group in Montana lay out a damning case against lobbying group National Right To Work Committee and affiliated groups and individuals for years of extensive illegal campaign activity.
Two complaints were filed on Monday, April 21st with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. The first was filed against the National Right to Work Committee and people associated with it. The second complaint was against people and organizations including Western Tradition Partnership / American Tradition Partnership and the people behind those groups including Christian and Allison LeFer and Donny Ferguson. Ferguson is currently communications director for Texas Congressman Steve Stockman.
National Right To Work Committee Allegations
The allegations made against the National Right to Work committee are stark and consistent with the months of reporting I’ve done on the group — it claims that they operated secret printing presses, coordinated illegally with candidates and operated a number of deceptive front groups.
This complaint is being filed against National Right to Work Committee and its affiliates, agents, officers, and directors for violations of Montana campaign finance and practices laws. For many years, the National Right to Work Committee has operated a secret political mail operation. The National Right to Work Committee owns its own printing presses and has the ability to produce thousands of mailings
in less than a few weeks. During the 2008, 2010, and 2012 election cycles the National Right to Work Committee through its affiliates and agents mailed thousands of pieces of election material to Montana voters. The National Prolife Alliance, National League of Taxpayers, National Association of Gun Rights, National Gun Owners Alliance, and Western Tradition Partnership/American Tradition Partnership are nothing more than front groups/agents of the National Right to Work Committee and act under the direction of the National Right to Work Committee.
Although the National Right to Work Committee has taken various steps to conceal the connection of the front groups/affiliates, there is enough publically available information to suggest a connection between the National Right to Work Committee and entities identified above. The National Right to Work Committee is located at 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 500 in Springfield, VA 22160. The National Prolife Alliance is located at 5211 Port Royal Road, Suite 500, Springfield, VA 22151. It is believed these addresses are for the same office building. The office building where the National Right to Work Committee is located is at the intersection of Braddock Road and Port Royal Road in Springfield, Virginia. An analysis of Google Maps shows the same office building is used for both addresses.
The connection between these entities is more apparent when reviewing other publically available information. According to documents submitted to the Federal Elections Commission, the treasurer for the National Prolife Alliance PAC is Steve Antosh. Mr. Antosh’s personal residence is 3237 Fairfax, VA. (Fairfax County Treasurer Records). This is the same address as the National League of Taxpayers. The President of the National Gun Owners Alliance is Dennis Fusaro who was also a prominent member of the National Right to Work Committee. The National Gun Owners Alliance has also used the same mailing address as the National League of Taxpayers.
Christian Lefer is the officer of Montana Citizens for Right to Work. Montana Citizens for Right to Work is financed by the National Right to Work Committee. See National Right to Work IRS Tax Returns. Mr. Lefer has also acted as an agent of Western Tradition Partnership/American Tradition Partnership. On information and belief, the National Right to Work Committee contributed to and/or financed the political operation of Montana Citizens for Right to Work/Western TraditionPartnership/American Tradition Partnership. These entities have never filed any of the necessary paperwork required by Montana law and have never disclosed any contributions and/or expenditures. The complaint filed by Bruce Tutvedt shows a flyer paid for by the National Association for Gun Rights. The bulk mail postage stamp shows the flyer originated from the same mail house as the mailers sent by Western Tradition Partnership. It is believed the mailers were produced by Christian Lefer and/or Direct Mail and Communicati ons.
Lefers, Donny Ferguson May Face Multi-Million Dollar Fines
Both complaints is seeking remedies including hefty fines and other injunctions from the LeFers, Ferguson, National Right to Work President Mark Mix and others because it says they are personally liable under Montana law:
The agents, officers, and directors of WTP/ATP/TFL/AAF/MCRW are personally liable for all fines, penalties, and other sanctions resulting from the violations listed above under the following statutes:
1. Section 13-35-105, MCA. Under Montana law, a person who aids and abets the conduct of a person who violates a provision of Montana election law is also guilty of a violation of that provision.
2. Section 28-10-702, MCA. Under Montana law, a person who assumes to act as an agent is responsible to third persons when the agent’s acts are wrongful in their nature.
The complaint asks for:
A fine against each party in the amount of three times the amount spent by WTP/ATP/TFL/AAF/MCRW and the other associated entities in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles under § 13-37-128, MCA. It is my understanding WTP/ATP alone spent roughly $500,000 in the 2010 election cycle. Thus, for the 2010 election cycle, I would request a fine against each person or entity who committed violations in the 2010 election cycle for the amount of $1,500,000 just for the WTP/ATP expenditures. I would request other equivalent fines based upon the amount of spending by the other entities in 2010 and 2012;
An inspection of documents and reports under § 13-37-121, MCA and issuance of orders of noncompliance as authorized by law;
An injunction pursuant to § 13-35-108, MCA to prohibit WTP/ATP/TFL/AAF/MCRW and its entities, associates, affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, directors, treasurers, and agents from spending any money or performing any election related activity until WTP/ATP/TFL/AAF/MCRW are in compliance with Montana law;
Complaints Filed By Republican Group
The complaints were filed by a Republican affiliated group called Business Advocates for Sensible Elections. As Montana TV station KXLH reported:
“Dark money” is the term commonly used to refer to money spent to influence an election that does not disclose the source of the funding.
After MT State Senator Ed Buttrey (R-Great Falls) didn’t vote in a way that satisfied so called “dark money” groups during the session, he says that he was threatened: “It was told to me, ‘You are dead in the next election…we are coming after you.'”
But despite fear of possible retaliation, Buttrey, along with several Republican lawmakers, are fighting back.
The group is called Montana Business Advocates for Sensible Elections – abbreviated Montana BASE – and their issue is with 501(c)4 organizations, also known as “dark money” groups.
It’s a disturbing trend.
As I’ve been researching the group Patriots for Economic Freedom, I’ve now spoken to four of the groups’s top donors and according to information from their Federal Election Commission reports none of them claim to have actually donated to the group.
Three of the four people I spoke to had charges on their credit card ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 for the Patriots for Economic Freedom group and contacted their credit card company to have the charges reversed. One of the four–a man in his 90s–didn’t remember the transaction that was shown as reversed on the FEC report at all.
All four people were conservatives who have donated to other groups in small amounts. None of them were familiar with Patriots for Economic Freedom other than the charges made to their credit cards. All four were also elderly, ranging in age from their late sixties to nineties. The four came from different states.
Patriots for Economic Freedom took in over $200,000 in this election and at least $84,000 of that money went to either treasurer / founder Tyler Whitney or his company Amagi and nearly $13,000 went to attorney Dan Backer’s company DB Capitol Strategies.
As I reported on this Storify story, Tyler Whitney’s name does not appear on the site for the group but instead lists an “Andrew Whitney.”
A new mailer by a group called Patriots for economic freedom that claims to support Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert appears to be another attempt to take advantage of patriotic conservatives and the Tea Party base with a mailer that claims to support a candidate but seems to have no actual connection to that candidate.
The mailer from Patriots For Economic Freedoom was sent out under the subject line “We Can’t Lost Gohmert!” In fact, Rep. Louie Gohlnert won his March primary is a shoe-in to carry the November election.
This exploitation of the Tea Party base seems to be rampant. A few days ago, I reported on a new mailer by TheTeaParty.Net treasurer Dan Backer that was raising money to ‘Draft Sarah Palin’, who has made it clear that she is not running for Senate.
Patriots For Economic Freedom’s Tyler Whitney & Dan Backer
The group Patriots For Economic Freedom lists Tyler Whitney as their treasurer.
According to OpenSecrets, they brought in about $136,000 so far this cycle.
The OpenSecrets Expenditure reports shows at least $12,000 going to Mr. Whitney. The expenditure report also shows $73,000 going to a consulting company called Amagi Strategies. That’s notable because Amagi Strategies lists Tyler Whitney as their registered agent.
Patriots For Economic Freedom also has connections to attorney Dan Backer, according to their expenditure report as posted on Open Secrets, where Backer’s DB Capitol Strategies received at least $12,000 from Patriots For Economic Freedom.
One interesting biographical side-note (worthy of mention because of the apparent cynical hypocrisy it shows on both Whitney’s part AND on the part of the liberal gay media was savaged him): Tyler Whitney was reported in 2007 to have come out as gay to his friends. That article lists his connection to The Leadership Institute (notable because people like Dan Backer client Rep. Steve Stockman worked there for years) and Whitney’s activities before coming out.
Whitney is also pictured in a Nov. 20 protest holding a sign which reads “Go back in the closet.” The protest was against a proposed comprehensive human rights ordinance in the city of Lansing, an ordinance that was later adopted by a unanimous vote of the City Council.
The Leadership Institute, for which Whitney works, supports conservative college and high school groups around the country and provides nonpartisan campaign training. It has provided funds to Whitney, who used them to publish a conservative newspaper at East Lansing High School in 2005, as well as to YAF chapters at MSU and CMU.
How is this happening?
For one thing, very few of the big media outlets on the right are covering it.
For another, it’s become rampant.
As Politico reported in 2012:
Political operatives can create a PAC and corresponding website on the cheap, drop some cash to rent an email list and, voilà— in come the small-dollar contributions from grass-roots Republicans eager to support any effort aiming to turn out President Barack Obama or reelect the fiery West.
Except those chunks of $25 and $50 don’t often find their way to any serious campaigns to beat Obama or boost West.
“The vast majority of the groups that we know are engaged in this have done nothing for West,” said Jill Holtzman Vogel, the congressman’s campaign attorney.
And the 2012 Politico article mentions Patriots for Economic Freeedom–the group behind the Gohmert mailer–as one you raised money on Allen West’s name in 2012, gave him nothing, and won’t respond to comments.
More egregious to West’s campaign, though, are those groups that use his name and have given nothing to the congressman.
Patriots for Economic Freedom, the Republican Majority Campaign and Conservative Strike Force have all raised money off of West’s name and haven’t supported his campaign.
None of these groups list phone numbers on their websites, and they didn’t respond to requests for comment submitted online.
Here’s the complete mailer :
Subject: We Can’t Lose Gohmert!
Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert Is Standing Up Against The Left! We Cannot Afford To Lose Him!
Louie Gohmert is working to hold Washington accountable. During a recent House Judiciary Hearing, Congressman Gohmert questioned Eric Holder about the Justice Department’s refusal to hand over documents related to Islamic charities. What happens when you question this Administration about anything? You are bullied in hopes that you will be silenced.
Eric Holder has made many statements since this Hearing to convince Americans that Louie Gohmert is treating him differently than past Attorney Generals. This is ridiculous. The Obama Administration believes that they are above the law and should answer to no one. We must support Louie Gohmert’s strong leadership!
Louie Gohmert fights to repeal ObamaCare, end Washington’s out of control spending and hold the White House accountable for the scandals they call “phony”. Louie Gohmert is a patriot and true conservative. We need him in Washington to stop the big government agenda that is killing jobs and hindering future success.
Also, checks can be mailed to:
Patriots For Economic Freedom
P.O. Box 90
New York, NY 10009
|Paid for and authorized by Patriots For Economic Freedom- a federal political action committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Patriots For Economic Freedom is responsible for the content of this message. Contributions are not tax deductible for tax purposes. www.EconomicFreedomNow.org Patriots For Economic Freedom 424 E. 10th Street, #3D New York, NY 10009
If Tea Party supporters follow the money they donated to TheTeaParty.net Leadership Fund, will they agree it’s being used as they expected?
It appears to me that an attorney named Dan Backer routed tens of thousands of dollars in donor money from a group that actively solicits money from Tea Party supporters into a fund that sent nearly $15,000 each to U.S. Senators in order to get their support on a court case that Backer himself is leading and using to built his own reputation and woo clients.
Don’t take my word on any of this. Click the links, follow along and make up your own mind.
Dan Backer is treasurer of TheTeaParty.net Leadership Fund. This controversial group has brought in $3,500,000 this election cycle.
That money came from primarily from grassroots supporters who send money to support ‘the Tea Party movement.’
$40,000 from from The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund goes to a group called In Defense of Free Speech Jfc.
Here’s the FEC filing for In Defense of Free Speech Jfc.
The In Defense of Free Speech Jfc group was set up by Dan Backer.
Remember that Dan Backer is both the Treasurer of The TeaParty.net Leadership Fund AND started the Joint Fundraising Committee that the TPLF gave the money to.
The money went to Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn.
So $40,000 in donor money from a group Backer is treasurer of and was sent to another a group he started and then on to McConnell, Cornyn, Cruz and Lee.
Why did this money go to them?
It’s very clear that $40,000 in Tea Party donor money went to four Senators, including Cornyn and McConnell.
Why? Dan Backer isn’t answering those questions.
The In Defense of Free Speech Jfc appears to be connected to a court case Backer is leading called McCutcheon vs. FEC.
One of the other donors to the In Defense of Free Speech Jfc is plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon.
Backer promotes the McCutcheon case as a free speech issue and has been using the case to promote himself, as this recent article from USA Today shows:
“The government shouldn’t be in the business of policing speech,” Backer said during an interview at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference — an annual gathering that is part pep rally, trade show and media madhouse that attracts some of the Republican Party’s most ardent conservative activists.
It’s a place where Backer gets a lot of business done. It was at this conference three years ago that Backer met Shaun McCutcheon, a wealthy Alabama electrical engineer who is the named plaintiff in the case. A few months after their initial meeting, Backer helped McCutcheon launch a super PAC, Conservative Action Fund.
About a year after their first meeting, Backer persuaded McCutcheon to confront the aggregate limits in court.
Is this a conflict of interest?
Is this the way Tea Party supporters want their money spent?
Please help spread the word.