Former Bachmann aide to testify on Iowa ethics case

9:31 PM, Apr 18, 2013   |    comments
Andy Parrish
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A former aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann will submit testimony to an Iowa Senate panel looking into an ethics complaint connected to her presidential campaign.

Andy Parrish, a longtime aid who has served as Rep. Bachmann's chief of staff, will send a signed affidavit to the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee in the coming days, according to his St. Paul attorney John Gilmore.

"What's unfortunate is that this has been read as some sort of act of disloyalty toward Michele Bachmann, and nothing could be further from the truth," Gilmore told KARE Thursday.

"Andy remains a strong supporter of the congresswoman, considers her a personal friend, and certainly a political ally."

The committee is looking into an ethics complaint filed against Republican Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, who was Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman until just days before the Iowa Caucuses, when he endorsed rival Ron Paul.

Peter Waldron, a Florida evangelical minister who served as Bachmann's national field director, filed a complaint alleging that Sorenson was paid $7,500 per month to work for Bachmann and never disclosed that income to the Senate.

Waldron contends the money came from a Colorado company controlled by Bachmann's top fundraiser, Guy Short. Accepting those payments without declaring them, Waldron asserts, would be a violation of the Iowa Senate's rules.

Such a payment doesn't appear to violate any state or federal election laws, but the ethics probe could keep Sorenson in political hot water and keep Bachmann's name swirling in unflattering newspaper and blog headlines.

"This involves an Iowa state senator possibly running afoul of the Iowa state senate ethics, and that does not involve congressman Michele Bachmann," Gilmore remarked.

In his initial paperwork, Waldron identified Parrish solely as "witness A," but Parrish agreed to go public to support Waldron because is appeared the Iowa Senate wasn't taking his claim seriously.

"Andy stepped up because he has a strong friendship with Peter and he's loyal to his friends," Gilmore said.

"In the absence of this missing information, Peter Waldron looks like he has a personal vendetta or some sort of grudge, or worse is making things up. And none of those are the case."

Parrish is unable to travel because he and his wife must remain close to an infant son who was born prematurely and has been hospitalized in neonatal intensive care for more than six weeks. That is why he's going with a sworn affidavit instead of testifying in person.

"Andy parrish is going to focus on is whether or not Senator Sorenson was paid by a fundraising group of the Bachmann campaign," Gilmore said.

"And in fact he was. Andy has information about that."

Sorenson has strongly denied any wrongdoing, and disagrees sharply with the notion that he has done anything that constitutes a violation of senate ethics.

Iowa Sen. Wally Horn, the Democrat who chairs the ethics committee, said he'd like to wrap up the investigation and rule on it before the Senate adjourns in early May.

Gilmore told KARE that Parrish has no axe to grind with Sorenson, but believe there was an information gap he could fill for the Iowa ethics panel.

"It's one of those things that looks as if somebody is turning on a former employer, when in fact he's simply trying to step up in Iowa to support the truth."

Home Schoolers case

He said Parrish won't provide any testimony relating to a second senate ethics claim against Sorenson, involving the alleged theft of a mailing list of Christian home schoolers in 2011.

Barbara Heki, a former Bachmann volunteer and campaign worker, accused Sorenson of taking that electronic mail list from her personal computer inside Bachmann's Iowa headquarters.
Urbandale Police are still investigating that allegation.

Sen. Horn told the Des Moines Register Wednesday that the committee may be inclined to drop the complaint related to the home school contact list, and resurrect it if the Urbandale Police find any crime was committed.

Rep. Bachmann is named in a civil suit by Heki, over the same mailing list incident.

Parrish has also been interviewed by investigators with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, according to Gilmore. That office is doing a preliminary investigation of a different allegation against Bachmann, related to her presidential run.

Gilmore wasn't at liberty to discuss what topics the Congressional investigators asked. At this point the OCE hasn't made a formal recommendation in the case.

Bachmann and her fundraiser Short have both said there's no substance to any of the allegations lodged against her failed presidential campaign, or her Michele PAC political action committee.

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