A key player in Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign has switched sides, joining the campaign of Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) in the final push before the Iowa caucuses. According to Talking Points Memo's Livewire blog, Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson announced yesterday that he would be leaving Bachmann's organization.

Sorenson was addressing the crowd at a Ron Paul rally when he made the surprise announcement, saying that the race has reached a "turning point." He echoed Paul supporters' contentions that the "Republican establishment" is seeking to undermine Rep. Paul's recent surge in the polls.

In the wake of the defection, the Bachmann camp is alleging that the Paul personnel offered Sorenson a "large amount of money" to shift his endorsement. Time magazine's Mark Halperin points readers to a response by Bachmann herself, who read a prepared statement for reporters and took no questions yesterday.

"Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign," said Bachmann, "Kent campaigned with us earlier this afternoon and went immediately afterward to a Ron Paul event and announced he is changing teams. Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I,’ then he told me he would stay with our campaign. The Ron Paul campaign has to answer for its actions."

The Paul campaign has yet to respond to Rep. Bachmann's allegations that Sorenson was bought away from her organization. Bachmann's campaign has failed to maintain the momentum it had when the Minnesota Congresswoman won the Ames Straw Poll earlier this year.

(image via Gage Skidmore's Flickr photostream)