Monday, October 7, 2013

Further Insights Into the Ron Paul Campaign FEC Problems

The Des Moines Register reports:
The lengthy report implicating now-resigned Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson in possible ethics violations and felonious misconduct also suggests campaign finance law violations by two Republican candidates for president in 2012[...]

Sorenson, R-Milo, resigned from the Senate on Wednesday shortly after the report was released. He worked on Bachmann’s Iowa caucuses campaign throughout much of 2011, but quit and endorsed her rival Paul on Dec. 28, just days before the Jan. 3, 2012 caucuses.

The Paul campaign issue raised by the Weinhardt report revolves around a $25,000 check written by Paul’s deputy national campaign manager to a company owned by Sorenson.

The check was dated Dec. 26, 2011, and drawn on a Leesburg, Va., jewelry store owned by the wife of Deputy National Campaign Manager Dimitri Kesari.

Sorenson never cashed that check, but Weinhardt offers little doubt that it was given in connection with his move to the Paul campaign. When contacted by Weinhardt, Kesari invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

Calls to Kesari and Paul’s 2012 campaign manager, Jesse Benton, were not returned on Thursday.

After release of the Weinhardt report, Sorenson continued to maintain he had violated no ethics rule and had never made any false statements. He resigned to avoid further legal fees and end “this travesty of justice,” he said.

Campaign experts cite legal concerns 
Campaign finance experts say a $25,000 check written by a private company for the benefit of a presidential campaign raises numerous legal concerns.

Such a payment made in exchange for something of value to the Paul campaign would likely qualify as an in-kind contribution, requiring disclosure on the reports that the campaign files with the Federal Election Commission. The $25,000 check was not reported, however.

“If, in fact, the Ron Paul campaign received something of value in this transaction, they would be required to report it as a contribution received and to itemize who it came from,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C.

And that’s not all. Contributions of any kind given by a corporation to a federal candidate are illegal. The check was written from the account of Designer Goldsmiths Inc., a Virginia-based corporation.

“The Ron Paul situation ... has the potential for a lot of bad things that would violate the (Federal Election Campaign Act),” Jason Torchinsky, a Washington-based campaign finance attorney, told the Register in an earlier interview.

The violations could stand even though Sorenson never cashed the check, Ryan said. One area of ambiguity, however, may be the monetary value of Sorenson’s decision to support Paul.

“I’m not sure how the FEC would place a monetary value on the endorsement itself,” he said.

Report identifies 'suspicious' $73,000 
The Weinhardt report also identifies $73,000 in payments Sorenson received between February and July 2012 from a Maryland-based company called ICT Inc.

The investigator was unable to identify a link between the payments and the Paul campaign, but called them “deeply suspicious” and noted that Sorenson was “impressively vague” about their source before invoking the Fifth Amendment during questioning about them.


  1. Looks like our friend gets around:

    Notice the cell phone.

  2. EPJ now sticklers for tough campaign finance regulations. You can't this stuff up.

    1. I think Wenzel is just preparing us for the negative news that could come out relative to operatives in the Ron Paul campaign. In reading between the lines, I also get the sense that Wenzel knows more than he is reporting and that it could be very ugly.