A Republican political operative and his family had hoped he would avoid prison after admitting to his role in a cash-for-endorsement scandal — and they lashed out after he was sentenced to 15 months.
Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty to violating federal election law and obstruction of justice after he made the surprising leap from backing Michele Bachmann for president to supporting Ron Paul just days ahead of the 2012 caucus, reported The Des Moines Register.
Sorenson’s attorney was surprised by the prison term, since the former lawmaker had cooperated with federal prosecutors, testified before a grand jury and agreed to plead guilty to accepting $73,000 in exchange for his endorsement.
Prosecutors had recommended two years of probation and community service, but Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt imposed the prison term instead, saying Sorenson’s crimes were “the definition of political corruption.”
The former GOP lawmaker’s family shouted at reporters outside the courthouse, and Sorenson denounced his critics.
“Are you happy now?” said one of Sorenson’s sisters, and two of his daughters shouted obscenities at reporters and tried to block a television camera.
Sorenson posted a message on his Facebook page apologizing for his actions and attacking those who were “gleeful” over his punishment.
“Feel free to lob all the insults and criticism you would like towards me,” Sorenson wrote. “I was the elected official, I was the one that aired (sic) and I was the one that made the choices I did.”
“It is absolutely disgusting to direct that towards my wife and kids,” he added. “They did absolutely nothing wrong and attacking them shows your lowest form of scum.”
Sorenson told the judge in a letter that he had “put politics before the truth.”
“I was cocky, arrogant and filled with many miss guided (sic) ideas,” Sorenson wrote. “Today I am before you humbled and broken. Looking back I realize the missed opportunities I had to help more people through compassion.”
But his wife, Shawnee Sorenson, thought the sentence was unnecessarily harsh.
“The judge basically sentenced my husband for bribery,” she posted on Facebook. “He did not sell a vote as stated by the prosecutor who argued on Kents behalf after the sentence was read. But, everyone of Iowas law makers who voted for the gas tax did accept a bribe. They were paid from the road builders to their campaigns to charge each and every one of you every time you put gas in your vehicle.”
Three Paul operatives — campaign chairman Jesse Benton, campaign manager John Tate and deputy campaign manager Dimitri Kesari — were each convicted on a variety of charges in connection with the payoff scheme.
Kesari was sentenced to three months in federal prison, and Tate and Benson each got two years of probation.
Benton was caught on tape in October discussing with undercover journalist a scheme to funnel $2 million in what he believed were Chinese funds to the pro-Trump Great America PAC.