DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A second campaign adviser to former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has come forward with allegations that the Minnesota congresswoman improperly paid an Iowa state senator to work on her campaign just months before last year’s Iowa caucuses.
Andy Parrish, who was Bachmann’s chief of staff and later served on her Iowa campaign, is supporting claims made by another former campaign staffer that the Republican presidential candidate violated Iowa Senate rules by paying Sen. Kent Sorenson for campaign work. Parrish’s lawyer John Gilmore said he has emails to prove it, but declined to release them.
“Andy knew the truth and he had the material,” Gilmore said. “It’s putting the missing puzzle piece together so the Senate ethics committee can do its job.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune was first to report that Parrish was prepared to support the claim by the other aide, Peter Waldron.
Waldron complained to the legislative panel in January. Waldron has said Sorenson received $7,500 a month to be Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman in 2011.
Sorenson has continually denied that he was paid, and did again Thursday.
“I’m confident that anything Andy produces will not corroborate that I received payment,” Sorenson told The Associated Press.
The development is the latest in the continuing saga of Bachmann’s once-vaunted campaign. The conservative House member entered the race in June 2011 as the darling of the tea party, and went on to win the Iowa GOP presidential straw poll two months later.
But within weeks, staff and senior leadership were abandoning the campaign and key supporters were complaining about its disarray. Bachmann went on to finish a distant sixth-place in the January 2012 caucuses and quit the race the next day.
Bachmann also is being investigated by the U.S. House’s Office of Congressional Ethics in light of Waldron’s complaint.
Bachmann’s campaign and Sorenson also are being sued by a former staffer who claims Sorenson stole a private email.
Iowa Senate ethics committee Chairman Wally Horn, a Democrat, said Wednesday the panel would vote to dismiss the complaint unless lawmakers received material to substantiate Waldron’s claim within 10 days.
“We don’t want to look like we’re doing any cover-up, and we don’t want to look like we’re on a witch hunt,” Horn said.
If true, the payments could violate a Senate ethics ban on paid employment with political campaigns. Should the committee receive information it finds valid, they could recommend a punishment up to expulsion from the Senate. They can also ask the chief justice of the Iowa Supreme Court to appoint a special counsel to investigate and report back.
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