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Civic Skinny

Wife-beating charge could complicate plea deal in Sorenson case. Grassley’s money. And Juice.

7/29/2015

If you’re awaiting sentencing on federal charges that could send you to prison for up to 25 years but hoping you can cut a deal for lesser time, it’s probably not a good idea to drink 12 ounces of rum and then beat up your wife. And then get in a fight with the cops who show up.

That’s what former state senator Kent Sorenson did last week, police reports say. His bruised and scratched-up wife, Shawnee, came to the defense of her six-foot-one-inch, 250-pound husband — it’s really nobody’s business, she said, and besides, “I started it [and] he looked worse” — and she said she and her companion of 26 years “have been under tremendous pressure and stress for several years.”

The stress is likely to increase.

Sorenson, a far-right Republican who was once the darling of the family-values set, pleaded guilty nearly a year ago to concealing payments received from the political campaign of Ron Paul while an elected official in return for his allegiance. (For $73,000, he had switched that allegiance to Paul from Michele Bachmann.) He also pleaded guilty to obstructing an investigation into payments received from the Bachmann campaign. His sentencing has been repeatedly delayed at the request of the federal government, presumably because investigators are hoping to get information from him that might implicate individuals in those campaigns.

But the wife-beating arrest can be taken into account when Federal Judge Robert Pratt eventually sentences the 43-year-old Sorenson, lawyers say. Federal sentencing guidelines say the court “shall impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary” to punish the offender, protect the public and reflect the seriousness of the crime.

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The court, too, must consider “the history and characteristics of the defendant.”

And, as one lawyer who has been following the case noted, a judge might “tend to think less of people who beat up their spouse while drunk.”

Even before allegedly beating up his wife, Sorenson didn’t have an unblemished history or sterling characteristics. As Cityview noted in the past, Sorenson dropped out of high school at age 17, has filed for bankruptcy, has been convicted of delivery of marijuana and been sentenced to jail, has been convicted of defaulting on car loan payments, and had unpaid federal income taxes for three different years.

Then, last fall he tested positive for marijuana during a drug check required as part of the pretrial proceedings connected with the federal charges.

On the other hand, Steve Deace, the self-appointed arbiter of right and wrong, has called Sorenson “a fighter for liberty and morality.”

Sorenson, through Kenny’s Bail Bonds, posted a $2,000 bond to be released following his latest charges. He has pleaded not guilty, and his first appearance in court was scheduled for Tuesday of this week. The court entered an order barring him from “any contact” with his wife, though she petitioned to have it removed. A hearing on her request will be held Friday morning in district court in Indianola.

Shawnee Sorenson, who says she is “tired of the media portraying Kent in a negative light,” says Sorenson is a “good father, husband and provider for our family” and says she will not press charges. If the county attorney does proceed, and Sorenson is found guilty of either domestic abuse causing injury or interference with official acts that injured a police officer, Sorenson can be sent to jail. The domestic abuse charge is a serious misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,875; the interference with official acts charge is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $6,250.

Sorenson served one term in the Iowa House, barely beating Democratic incumbent Mark Davitt in 2008. In 2010, he easily beat Democratic senate incumbent Staci Appel, but he resigned on Oct. 2, 2013, after a special investigator told the Iowa Supreme Court that Sorenson likely violated ethics rules.

His current LinkedIn profile lists “political consulting” and “political campaigns” as two of his “skills.” …

Sen. Chuck Grassley raised $1,530,858 for his re-election campaign in the first six months of this year, and on June 30 he had $3,054,406 on hand. Of the total raised, about $770,000 came from political-action committees, who are falling all over themselves to support the fourth most senior member of the Senate. (Grassley entered the Senate on Jan. 3, 1981. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat, is most senior, with service dating to Jan. 3, 1975. Next is Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah (Jan. 3,1977) and then Republican Thad Cochran of Mississippi (Dec. 27, 1978).)

No Democrat has filed a campaign report for the Senate race, though state senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids has an exploratory committee, is soliciting money and has all but announced. …

After decades in the Bank of America Building, the Whitfield Law firm is moving to the top two floors of the Hub Tower. …

Lisa Bluder, the Iowa women’s basketball coach, is head coach for the USA women’s team in the Pan Am games. She is tearing it up and about to go for the gold — and not a mention in the Register!” says a note a well-known woman sent to Cityview a couple of weeks ago. Indeed, Bluder took the team to the finals in Toronto, where the USA lost to Canada, 81 to 73, on July 20 after beating Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba (by one point). And, indeed, there appears to have been no mention in the Register. …

Is Juice going monthly? Newspaper gossips say the Register’s weekly tabloid on the bar scene will become a monthly, but Amalie Nash, the newspaper’s executive editor, says, “We haven’t made any decisions.”  She adds: “The Juice 10-year anniversary was last month…so we thought it was a good time to take stock of where it’s at and where it needs to go….Part of the assessment is looking at the content itself — is it reaching the desired audience? What are people gravitating toward? How can we improve it? And part of it is the delivery method — should it be weekly in print still? Monthly? Quarterly?…We’re continuing conversations.” CV

 

Marty Tirrell (continued)

Marty Tirrell filed for bankruptcy — again — last week.

The radio shouter, an expert at talking folks out of their money and then not delivering on his promises, filed papers listing debts of $810,252.26 — plus claims he lists as “unknown” but that, in fact, come to around $400,000.

He said he had personal property worth $9,392.94 — including a $500 wedding ring from his recently dissolved marriage — and a house with a market value of $225,000. But the petition says he expects the home to be foreclosed on and plans to move into an apartment.

Creditors include Charles Gabus Motors, which has a judgment against him for $104,665. (The auto company paid him to bring Troy Aikman to town for a promotion; Tirrell took the money but never produced Aikman.) Two out-of-state ticket brokers that supplied him with tickets to major sporting events — tickets that he never paid for — have judgments totaling about $300,000, and two Boston banks are owed around $135,000, the papers say.

The filing says he owes radio station KXLQ $29,700 — he used to work there — and he owes about $9,000 to the Des Moines Register and around $5,000 to KCWI-TV for advertising he bought and never paid for. He owes money to AT&T and Sprint and several credit-card companies. A couple of law firms, a couple of doctors and a day-care service also have claims.

The petition for protection from creditors is under Chapter 7 of the federal Bankruptcy Act and was filed with the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Iowa. The filing follows by six months the dismissal of an earlier bankruptcy filing, which the judge ruled was filed under the wrong chapter of the act and which was sketchy, at best — leaving out some major lawsuits, failing to supply documentation for projected income and, in the words of the trustee, proposing living expenses “which appear excessive.”

The petition says he is self-employed at his company, “62 & Even,” and it values his 42% interest in that company at $1. He takes a draw against ad sales of $7,500 a month — $6,023 after withholding taxes. He says his monthly expenses are $6,071, including $1,031 for child support, $732 for child care, $750 for car payments and $118 for personal care products and services. The budget lists no money for mortgage payments or rent.

The latest filing indicates he is behind in his child-support payments — the court papers indicate his ex-wife has filed a notice that she has a claim — and has not paid the back taxes that he owes for 2007 and 2008 and 2009. Polk County records show the Internal Revenue Service has put liens on his property for about $45,000 in taxes owed for 2010, 2011 and 2012. The petition indicates the state of Iowa plans to file a claim for unpaid taxes. And court records in Houston show he is being sued for $350,000 by a Texas broadcaster that says it fronted him money that was never paid back.

Tirrell and Ken Miller now have an afternoon sports-talk show on “The Champ,” at 1700. Presumably, they buy time from the station and then sell advertising to pay for that. CV

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