Ron Paul's 2012 campaign allegedly offered financial compensation to a Republican Iowa state senator in exchange for his endorsement and support.
Documents obtained by TheIowaRepublican.com and OpenSecrets.org showed a representative of state Sen. Kent Sorenson told the Paul campaign the senator would ditch Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign if they provided him with $8,000 per month in salary, $5,000 per month in salary to his Senate clerk Chris Dorr, and $100,000 in contributions his newly created PAC.
"In a nutshell, this PAC with boost the KS name about 5x as big as it is today. Between this PAC, Iowa Gun Owners, and Iowa Pro-Life Action we will continue to build a major state based movement that will involve far more people into a future Rand Paul presidential run," the document stated.
The documents were sent by Iowa gun rights advocate Aaron Dorr to Paul campaign manager John Tate in late October. About two months later, Sorenson abandoned the Bachmann campaign and joined the Paul campaign. Bachmann said Sorenson left because of financial reasons.
"I had a conversation with Kent Sorenson, and in the direct conversation that I had with him, he told me that he was offered money — he was offered a lot of money — by the Ron Paul campaign to go and associate with the Ron Paul campaign. No one else knows about that conversation other than Kent Sorenson and myself, and I know what he said to me," she told Politico in 2011.
Sorenson told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday he was not a part of the alleged financial arrangement.
“I wasn’t part of this conversation. I’m not even sure if the discussion happened, but if it did happen, I wasn’t part of it. I didn’t give anyone authority to have this discussion [about being paid].”
TheIowaRepublican.com also obtained a recording of a phone conversation between Sorenson and conservative activist Dennis Fusaro. During the conversation, Sorenson said Paul campaign deputy national campaign manager Demitri Kesari had met him and his wife at a restaurant, where Kesari wrote out a check to his wife while he was in the bathroom.
"I kept saying no, and my wife said we can do this. I went to the bathroom, we were in a restaurant, and he made it out to my wife," Sorenson said.
Sorenson also said Paul campaign chairman Jesse Benton knew about the payment, but he wasn't aware if Paul himself knew about the alleged arrangement. Benton is currently running Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's 2014 re-election campaign.
The state senator is already under investigation for allegedly receiving money from the Bachmann campaign in violation of Iowa state ethics rules. The FBI is also investigating whether Bachmann violated federal laws by not disclosing payments to Sorenson.
On Facebook, Sorenson denied having ever received payment from the Paul campaign.
"I am looking forward to turning my tax statements over to the senate investigator if and when he ask for them. I cannot control what others say about me, but I know the truth and I was not part of this discussion if it even actually took place nor did I authorize someone to have this conversation on my behalf," he wrote, according to TheIowaRepublican.com.
Paul is not the only one accused of buying endorsements in Iowa. Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum also allegedly provided Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats with a $1 million contribution in exchange for an endorsement.