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Lawyer Named to Investigate Alleged Bachmann Campaign Payments to State Senator

The Minnesota Congresswoman's former presidential campaign also faces a lawsuit that a supporter stole an email list from a Johnston volunteer.

A Des Moines attorney will serve as an independent investigator to determine whether a legislator violated Iowa Senate rules by taking payment from former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, reports KCCI.com.

Mark Weinhardt has been appointed as independent special counsel. The Iowa State Senate Ethics Committee voted May 1 to seek a special investigator, the T station said.

Weinhardt will determine whether Republican Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Milo, was paid for campaign work on behalf Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who won the Ames Straw Poll in August 2011 but finished last in the January 2012 Iowa Caucuses.

Iowa Senate ethics rules bar paid employment with political campaigns.

Sorenson denies payment and says the investigation is a political witch hunt.

Earlier this week, the Star Tribune's reported that Bachmann is negotiating a settlement with a former campaign worker from Johnston who sued the Minnesota congresswoman over a stolen email list used by the presidential campaign.

Barb Heki served as a coordinator of home-school supporters for Bachmann’s presidential campaign that participated in the January 2012 Iowa caucuses. She claimed Sorenson stole an email list from her computer in Bachmann’s Urbandale campaign office in 2011.

Sorenson's attorney told Patch last year he committed no crime.

According to the Star Tribune, Bachmann met with Heki's lawyers in Des Moines on May 6.

Heki said in a statement she was grateful former Bachmann campaign aide Chris Dorr of Van Meter had acknowledged removing an email list from Heki’s computer in Bachmann’s Urbandale campaign office. In September, Bachmann adviser Eric Woolson said in a sworn affidavit that Sorenson admitted taking the email list from Heki.

The AP reported:

Heki, who lives in Johnston, claims in the lawsuit that Sorenson took a database from her private computer in November that contained names and contact information, including email addresses, of thousands of Iowa families who were part of the Iowa home-school network on whose board she served. Heki said she had told Sorenson months earlier that she would not provide the list to the campaign.

When an email from the campaign was sent to members of the network in November, Heki was named in media reports as providing the list. She was later removed from the boards of the Iowa network and a related national network of home-school advocates on which she served.

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