Emails from 2010 show that former Republican Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson was not only directly involved in the National Right to Work Committee’s illegal campaign writing, printing and mailing scheme but that Sorenson’s wife and daughter were also directly involved.
The revelation is another in the story of the vast pattern of illegal campaign activities by the National Right To Work Committee . That activity included direct campaign coordination by the Springfield, Virginia lobbying group that was known to NRTW President Mark Mix, overseen by then-Vice President Doug Stafford and handled by NRTW employees and operatives like Dimitri Kesari, Jerad Gamble and Aaron Dorr.
The National Right To Work Committee is a 501(c)(4). Their required IRS 990 forms for the year 2010 claim the group was not involved in direct campaign activity, as shown in Part IV, question 3.
The Wife Letter
An October 5th email discusses ‘the wife letter’ — one of the campaign mailings done by NRTW in coordination with candidates. The Wife Letter is written as though it were coming from the candidate’s wife and tells personal stories of how the candidate and their wife met and makes a passionate plea as to why the target audience of women voters should vote for him.
The letters, which were often sent in a pink envelope and printed on pink paper, were actually written by NRTW employees, who based the letters on interviews with wives. In an October 5th email, Jared Gamble wrote to Dennis Fusaro, who was ostensibly in charge of the Iowa NRTW campaign:
Here is what I need:1.) I need a list with the candidates doing wife letters or possibly doing wife letters and I need their wife’s phone number (cell and home).2.) I need all the wife interviews scanned and sent to me that you may already have.Right now I do not have a clue how many wife letters we are printing for Iowa this year. Two years ago we had around 20 wife letters just for Iowa. If that is the case again, I need to prep for that level of work. Also, since Lauren does not have time to do the interviews, we have Betsy, Elizabeth and Makaela who will. It is always best to have a woman to woman conversation with this type of interview.
Makaela refers to Kent Sorenson’s adult daughter.
Here’s the first page of a draft of the ‘wife letter’ written by NRTW on behalf of Kent Sorenson’s 2010 Iowa Senate race:
An October 26th email from Aaron Dorr shows that Sorenson was not just directly involved in the illegal campaign mailings but concerned that this mailings were not being done in Iowa. Dorr wrote:
Kent begged us to print his materials here because he was nervous that it was going to be screwed up. I assured him that it would be taken care of. What the heck am I supposed to tell him?
Wife Letter Is Part Of NRTW’S Modus Operandi
A PBS story from 2012 gives an indication of how the NRTW mail program was implemented in states like Montana. The story involves documents that were stored at a Colorado meth house. The documents revealed the operations of the Montana mail program, overseen by National Right to Work’s Christian LeFer. LeFer was put in place in Montana by Dimitri Kesari.
(Montana politician) Butcher’s file in the Colorado boxes was labeled “Butcher Primary ’08 mail samples.” It included an email from LeFer to Butcher with a survey about unions. There was a campaign donation form, and drafts of fliers and a letter from Butcher’s campaign.
A “wife questionnaire” for Butcher’s wife Pam said she met her husband “on a blind date arranged by his buddy that neither of us wanted.” The questionnaire listed her children’s names and that she had been taking care of her disabled mother for five years.
A letter on pink paper from Pam Butcher was in a file marked “wife letters.” The letter, which contained much of the information in the questionnaire, was marked as being paid for by Butcher’s campaign.
A grand jury in Montana is currently looking at the case.
Here are the complete emails.
October 5th Jared Gamble email
From: Jared Gamble <email@example.com>Date: October 5, 2010, 9:52:13 PM EDT
Cc: NRTWC JNC <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Dimitri Kesari <email@example.com>
Subject:Re: WifeDennis,No, I have neither a phone number to reach each candidate’s wife nor completed wife interviews on the wiki. If you were involved in the research process, you would be aware of that; not to mention you have not logged onto the wiki in the past week. I also do not have wife interviews on the wiki. These still need to be accomplished, unless you have them and they have not been uploaded on the wiki. After sending out the original request today, Lauren and Jedd did not think they had the time to do all the interviews so Dimitri has assigned some of our staff here in IN to make the wife interview calls.Here is what I need:1.) I need a list with the candidates doing wife letters or possibly doing wife letters and I need their wife’s phone number (cell and home).2.) I need all the wife interviews scanned and sent to me that you may already have.Right now I do not have a clue how many wife letters we are printing for Iowa this year. Two years ago we had around 20 wife letters just for Iowa. If that is the case again, I need to prep for that level of work. Also, since Lauren does not have time to do the interviews, we have Betsy, Elizabeth and Makaela who will. It is always best to have a woman to woman conversation with this type of interview.Please reply with the simple request that was made earlier today.Thanks,Jared
October 26th Aaron Dorr Letter
On Oct 26, 2010, at 11:21 AM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:Gents,I’ve just been told that the number 10’s for Kent’s issue mail were all printed wrong! They say Indianaola for the city and Indiana for the state!This is crazy. These need to drop by tomorrow cause they are bulk!Kent begged us to print his materials here because he was nervous that it was going to be screwed up. I assured him that it would be taken care of. What the heck am I supposed to tell him? You could have called if you didn’t know his address.I’ve called Jared, Betsy, Ryan, and Josh via cell with no answer so I am emailing this out now.For the record, we’ve no windowed envelopes on hand.Aaron Dorr
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