A Johnston, Iowa woman who once worked for former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has filed a theft report with the Urbandale Police Department claiming an Iowa state senator stole a private email list from the campaign aide.
According to an Urbandale police report filed Sept. 11, Barb Heki told officers that sometime between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10, 2011, a private email list was stolen from her office at Bachmann's Iowa campaign office in Urbandale.
The police report lists the suspect as a 40-year-old man from Milo who is a state senator, but does not give the legislator's name. Urbandale Police Spokesman Randy Peterson says the department does not release suspect names.
The state senator from Warren County is Kent Sorenson, 40, of Milo.
His attorney, Theodore Sporer of the Sporer & Flanagan law firm in Des Moines, told Patch that Sorenson has committed no crime and has not been contacted by Urbandale police.
"Obviously, Kent denies any wrongdoing," Sporer said. "He did not steal anything from Barb Heki or take anything in her possession. We know nothing about this criminal complaint."
Sorenson was Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman at the time of the theft but defected to Texas Rep. Ron Paul's organization just a week before the January caucuses. Sporer said Sorenson's departure from the Bachmann camp was in no way tied to the allegations raised by Heki.
While the Bachmann campaign used Heki's email list, Sporer said Sorenson didn't take it or use it for the campaign. Sporer said he believes a home-school group reached an agreement with Bachmann to use the list, although he is unsure of when permission was obtained.
First a Civil Suit, Now a Criminal Complaint
While the criminal complaint was filed last week, Heki first began legal proceedings against the former Bachmann campaign in late July. Heki sued the Minnesota congresswoman and her senior campaign aides, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, claiming Sorenson took the email list and that the Johnston woman was blamed for its use.
The lawsuit claims that Sorenson took the list from Heki's private computer to promote Bachmann's candidacy among Christian home-school advocates before the Iowa caucuses. Heki was hired to coordinate home-school supporters for Bachmann's Iowa campaign, the newspaper said.
According to online court records, there will be a hearing on Oct. 4 in Polk County District Court on a motion by Bachmann's campaign to dismiss the lawsuit. Sporer said he is acting with other attorneys representing the multiple parties tied to the campaign to consolidate the lawsuit and work together to have the lawsuit dismissed.
Heki's lawsuit also claims that Sorenson and Bachmann defamed her. Sporer says his client did not "make any defamatory or disparaging comments against Barb Heki. We'll present evidence that Senator Sorenson never said anything that could be construed as defamatory."
Heki had been a board member for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators for 10 years and had worked as a top home-school volunteer for Republican Mike Huckabee's winning Iowa caucus campaign in 2008.
Calls to her home for comment were not answered, and her voicemail would not accept messages.
Heki's lawsuit claims that the senator took a database from her private computer 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. Court papers said she had told Sorenson that she would not provide the list to the campaign.
When an email from the Bachmann campaign was sent to the home-school network, Heki was named in media reports as providing the list. She was later removed from the boards of the Iowa network and a national network of home-school advocates on which she served.
Bachmann won the Iowa GOP presidential straw poll in August 2011, but she finished fifth in the January caucuses and dropped out of the race.