Awaiting sentencing, Kent Sorenson fails drug test

Kent Sorenson, the former Iowa state senator who pleaded guilty last summer to criminal charges connected to his role in two presidential campaigns, violated his probation last month by failing a drug test.

The failed drug test was reported Friday in federal court filings.

Sorenson, a Republican from Milo, took the test on Sept. 30 as part of his probation ahead of sentencing in his case. That test came back positive for marijuana.

His attorney, F. Montgomery Brown, said Sorenson disclosed using marijuana prior to making his plea and denies using since he’s been under court supervision. Testing shows declining levels of the drug, Brown added, which is “consistent with abstinence.”

In the court documents, the probation officer assigned to Sorenson asked that no action be taken in response to the drug test, noting that he has maintained full-time employment. The U.S. Department of Justice attorney assigned to the case did not object.

“I would not expect it to have any impact upon his pretrial release at this time,” Brown said. “They’re not asking for any revocation of that release.

Brown added, “He’s not the first tea partier to have a substance abuse issue.”

Sorenson’s sentencing date has not been set.

He faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty in August to concealing payments he received in exchange for defecting from one presidential campaign to another ahead of Iowa’s 2012 caucuses and then obstructing investigations into the incident.

Sorenson was a top Iowa adviser to U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign but switched allegiances to then-U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s rival campaign in late December 2011, just days before the Iowa caucuses.

According to a statement of facts accompanying Sorenson’s plea agreement, he secretly negotiated with the Paul campaign over a period of months to join the campaign and received $73,000.

The payments included several monthly payments, ranging in size from $8,000 to $33,000, routed through a film production company and a second company before being received by Sorenson. Those circuitous routes circumvented reporting requirements of the Federal Election Commission, ensuring the payments were kept hidden from the public.

In public statements when he switched campaigns, Sorenson said he was not being paid. He also provided false testimony to an independent investigator about the payments “in part to obstruct investigations that he anticipated by the FBI and FEC,” according to the Department of Justice.

Sorenson has had a previous legal run-in involving marijuana. The Des Moines Register reported in 2010 that Sorenson pleaded guilty in 1993 to delivery of marijuana, an aggravated misdemeanor. He served five days in jail, paid fines and restitution and was on probation for two years.

He told the Register in 2010 that he wasn’t dealing drugs, only accompanying a man who was selling them. “At that point in my life, I was a different person,” he said.