Sorenson Testimony Continues in Ron Paul Staffers Trial
Former State Sen. Kent Sorenson continued his testimony Friday afternoon in the trial of two former staffers from Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign. Dimitrios Kesari and Jesse Benton, who is married to Paul's granddaughter, are accused of conspiracy and lying to the FBI respectively.
Sorenson told the court that he agreed to testify in hopes of receiving leniency in sentencing. Sorenson pleaded “guilty” last year to charges related to him concealing $73,000 in payments he received in exchange for defecting from Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign and joining Ron Paul’s, days before the Iowa Caucuses. Sorenson faces up to 25 years in prison and $440,000 in fines.
Sorenson said he knew he would be paid for the switch and testified that Benton, the campaign's chairman, told Sorenson, "We'll take care of you," in regards to the money.
Sorenson also testified that Kesari, Paul's deputy campaign manager, made it clear he wanted Sorenson to lie about the payments and that Sorenson should send invoices to a Maryland-based video-production company for his money, as opposed to the Paul Campaign. Interactive Communications Technology then paid Sorenson's consulting company Grassroots Strategies.
Sorenson told the court that before switching his allegiance to Paul, he was also being paid via Grassroots Strategies, by a Bachmann PAC. But Sorenson said was worried about his future financial solvency since Bachmann wasn't polling well in late 2011, and he had become disillusioned with her as a candidate.
While his employment did not violate federal law, it's against the Iowa State Senate's code of conduct to receive payments, directly or indirectly, by working for a political candidate. In 2013, Sorenson resigned after his salary from working for Bachmann came to light.
The trial is expected to go through next week.