DES MOINES — A defiant Sen. Kent Sorenson issued a thankful farewell to his constituents last night, telling them he was the victim of a “straight-up political witch hunt,” but could not afford the legal costs to defend himself against an Iowa Senate ethics investigation that was “rigged” against him.
“I’ve made mistakes and missteps along the way,” Sorenson said in a letter to his constituents. “I said things that should have been worded differently, I said things out of fear and at times I stumbled,” he wrote.
“But I did not do anything illegal. I never did anything that was against the Iowa Senate ethics rules as they are written,” he added. “More importantly to me and my family, however, I did not do anything I believe was immoral.”
Sorenson said that throughout the probe initiated by the bipartisan Iowa Senate Ethics Committee on a 4-2 vote, he maintained his innocence in relation to the specific allegations brought against him.
The Milo conservative said he made no secret about his concern that Iowa Supreme Court justices were legislating from the bench and “happily and publicly” helped in the effort to remove them in retention votes in 2010 and 2012. He also ran successfully against the wife of one of the Supreme Court justices in his 2010 Senate race.
“So what did the court do? They took their revenge out on me by appointing a fox to investigate the hen-house,” he said in reference to special investigator Mark Weinhardt, who was appointed by the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court at the request of the ethics committee.
“The ‘investigation’ from the outset has been a sham. My attackers were never required to substantiate the claims they made against me or exactly how I broke the Iowa Senate rule,” he wrote. “But, when the committee charged with doing their due diligence in weighing the truthfulness of the allegations against me shirked their duty and referred the baseless complaint to the Iowa Supreme Court for investigation, it became clear where the train was heading. It became an honest, straight-up political witch hunt.”
Sorenson told his constituents the independent investigator’s family, according to his quick search of Iowa Campaign Ethics and Disclosure Board data, “appears to only have a history” of donating money to Democrat candidates.
“The game was rigged from the beginning,” he said. “After sitting down with the investigator, it was clear his mind was already made up, and anything I had to say was irrelevant to the foregone conclusion.”
Sorenson noted that “I’m not a wealthy man” and that the pursuit of justice and defense of his reputation proved to be a “hard row to plow for a man of my means.” Given that, he said, “I can no longer afford to both defend myself and provide for my family. It is with a heavy heart that I tender my resignation for the remaining year of my elected office.
“The decision to resign my office will release me from incurring further legal fees, allow me to start providing for my family once more, and bring to an unsatisfactory end this travesty of justice,” he added.
Sorenson said he ran for public office to lead the fight for the unborn, to fight against big spending and to fight against “ever-increasing” government encroachment on people’s lives, rights and freedoms.
“A lot of politicians promise they’ll ‘fight’ for this or that on the campaign trail and promptly forget all about those promises when their butts hit the chair at the capitol. But I remembered,” he said. “But doing so painted a big target on my back, and today I’m unable to continue that fight.”