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A birther and a semi-naked chickenman: Meet Bachmann’s Iowa endorsements
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s legislative endorsements in Iowa are quite the mixed bag: A state senator who served jail time for selling pot; a former mayor who allegedly stalked his ex-girlfriend until the police intervened; a state senator who can claim to be the first to show Focus on the Family videos at the state Capitol; and a state senator who dressed half naked in a chicken costume to dispense beer to bikers.
Sen. Kent Sorenson was the first state legislator to endorse Bachmann, doing so in March 2011. The Republican from Indianola is also the chairman of Bachmann’s Iowa campaign. First a state representative, Sorenson won a seat in the Iowa Senate in 2010. And he’s had a checkered past.
In 1993, Sorenson was caught in a police sting after he tried to sell an informant marijuana, The Des Moines Register reported. He pleaded guilty to delivery of marijuana and spent 5 days in jail and paid $300.
Sorenson told the paper that he was a different person back then and had changed his life.
The Register also reported that Sorenson fell behind on his child support payments in 1992 and the state ordered his wages be garnished and he fell behind again in 1995.
In his capacity as a lawmaker, Sorenson’s state-based career matches Bachmann’s zeal for combating equality for same-sex couples.
Immediatley following the Iowa Supreme Court decision that legalized civil marriage for gays and lesbians, Sorenson called for a battle.
“We are preparing for a battle,” Republican Rep. Kent Sorenson wrote via Twitter, “and will fighting give the people the opportunity to vote.”
Sorenson’s follow-up said, “I firmly believe that the people … should speak on this issue. I believe marriage is between 1 man and 1 woman and I will fight for this.”
There were allegations that Sorenson’s office had contacted county clerks asking them to consider not issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
The Register obtained emails from the county clerks and, according to an email obtained from Warren County Recorder Polly Glascock, one of Sorenson’s aides wondered if she would follow the law and marry same-couples.
“She inquired as to why I thought I had to do that it’s not a law, it’s an opinion,” wrote Glascock.
Sorenson said he didn’t ask his aide to call the clerks.
“I’m not calling for anarchy,” he said. “I want to make it clear that I’m not calling, pressuring her not to do her job. She has to do her job. That’s up to her, the oath she took and what she feels she has to do.”
He authored a bill to make the election of Supreme Court justices direct like other statewide offices and pushed for impeachment hearings against Iowa Supreme Court justices because of their civil marriage decision.
When he was elected to the Senate in 2010 he told a radio show that his constituents sent him to the Capitol to “burn this place down. They want me to do battle. And I understand that.”
Much like Bachmann when she was in the Minnesota Senate, Sorenson tried to suspend the rules to get a constitutional ban on civil marriage for gays and lesbians passed, but was ultimately rebuffed. “I assure you, one way or another we’re going to get a vote, even if I have to overrule the ruling of the chair, which I’m told has never been done in the Senate,” he told the Mason City Globe Gazette in 2010.
Danny Carroll, chairman of The Family Leader/Iowa Family Policy Center at the time, sent an email to supporters saying that Sorenson was planning to “file numerous amendments and use any other tactic at his disposal” in order to force a vote on same-sex marriage.
He was very adamant about his push to oust Senate Democrats who blocked anti-gay and anti-abortion measure in an update to constituents.
“My recommendation?” asked Sorenson. “I’d say that contacting guys like [Senate Majority Leader Mike] Gronstal and [Sen. Joe] Bolkcom is a waste of time if your intention is to persuade them to do the ‘right thing.’ Only God and prayer can accomplish that. Rather, continue to barrage them with emails and phone calls to get them on the record. Put it in your minds and remember the blood on their hands.
“And when the election season comes around, show them no mercy, and give them no quarter. They don’t. I can personally say that in the political arena, they sure don’t. And the babies who pay with their precious lives are an eternal testament to that fact.”
But, he’s also picked up on other issues that Bachmann has only flirted with.
Earlier this spring, Sorenson introduced legislation that would require presidential candidates to produce a birth certificate for public inspection.
Sorenson sponsored a bill that would return Iowa to the gold standard, calculating state taxes in gold and silver coins instead of U.S. currency. He spread falsehoods about the Affordable Care Act. Like Bachmann, he home-schools his children.
Though he’s backing Bachmann in 2011, Sorenson got campaign help in 2010 from Ron Paul in the form of a fundraiser and he was endorsed by Huckabee for his 2010 Senate bid.
Sen. Brad Zaun
Iowa Sen. Brad Zaun is backing Bachmann in Iowa and serves, alongside Sorenson, as a state co-chair for her campaign. He also has a sketchy past.
Before he was senator, he was the mayor of Urbandale, a suburb of Des Moines, where he was had told by police to stay away from a former girlfriend.
“Brad yelled from outside calling her slut and other names,” the police report said. Zaun and the woman had broken up earlier in the year. The officer responding to the incident wrote, “Brad has not accepted the relationship being over and has called her home and cell phone and has come to her home uninvited several times within the past year.”
The report stated that Zaun pounded on windows and doors and called the woman excessively. In fact, the officer was at the woman’s residence when Zaun called. She answered the phone. “Brad stated: ‘So how was Danny tonight anyway?’” The report indicates this was in reference to another man the woman had been dating.
Zaun called the episode “embarrassing,” and it was credited with sinking his congressional campaign. Zaun was running against Democratic Rep. Leonard Boswell when the news broke two months before the 2010 election. It sparked outcry from the Iowa Democratic Party.
“Brad Zaun’s record speaks for itself. This type of behavior isn’t acceptable from any elected official or candidate for public office,” said Norm Sterzenbach, IDP executive director. “Brad Zaun lacks the judgement and leadership experience to represent Iowans.”
Reports of the incident led national Democrats to target a half-dozen congressional candidates in the GOP’s “Young Guns” program who had been subject to criminal investigations involving threats and violence against women. Zaun was among them.
“It sends women across the country a chilling message when House Republican leadership promotes the campaigns of their Republican recruits with allegations of attempted rape, sexual assault, restraining orders, and other violent behavior towards women,” said Jennifer Crider, a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman. “Our mothers, daughters, and sisters deserve better than Republican leadership that not only tolerates this contemptible behavior, but actively seeks out candidates like this and promotes them.”
Zaun fought back by having his wife pen a campaign ad days before the election that said, “My husband Brad is running for Congress. I knew it would be tough, what I didn’t expect was (Rep.) Leonard Boswell’s (D) ugly personal attacks on my husband and our family. Mr. Boswell, your negative campaign is disgraceful. If you’d fought harder for our jobs, you wouldn’t need to sink so low to keep yours. I’m voting for Brad Zaun, not because he’s my husband, but because I know the truth.”
Like Bachmann, Zaun has taken some very conservative positions.
Zaun was caught on video saying state and federal money should not be used to help Iowans who were victims of devastating floods in 2008. “The fact of the matter is, is what has been forgotten is personal responsibility. We lost that as a country, we expect when there’s a flood or something that’s going on, the government to come in and help us,” he said at a forum at Drake University.
His views on immigration align with those of Bachmann, who was recently courting anti-immigration activists in Arizona.
“Arizona is trying to put teeth in the law that the feds should be doing in the first place. I think [Obama] has totally mishandled it,” he told the New York Post last year in reference to that state’s controversial SB1070.
While running for Congress in 2010, Zaun said, “Illegal people who are here, put them on a bus and send them wherever they came from.”
Zaun lent his support to a church that openly flouted the law when it engaged in a successful campaign to unseat three Iowa Supreme Court justices because they overturned a legislative ban on civil marriage for gays and lesbians.
“I believe the church up in Sioux City, as well as any church in America, should have the right to be able to give their views from the pulpit,” Zaun said.
Though he’s backing Bachmann this cycle, Zaun was the honorary chair for Mitt Romney’s campaign in Iowa’s Polk County in 2008. He got $1,000 from Romney’s Commonwealth PAC. During the 2012 cycle, he’s received $1,000 from Herman Cain’s PAC and $4,998 from Tim Pawlenty’s PAC.
The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI, is an annual bicycle ride from the state’s western border to it’s eastern border. Chelgren would be dressed as a chicken or other costume.
“Chickenman — er, Chelgren — was the impresario. Wearing a kilt and wielding a beer-filled super soaker, he greeted random riders who were friendly (or cute) enough with free beer,” the paper wrote.
Chelgren barely won his Senate seat; it went to a recount.
In his months at the Iowa Legislature, he’s compared pre-school to Nazi indoctrination.
Sen. Nancy Boettger raised eyebrows in Des Moines last year when she reserved space at the Capitol for the Iowa Family Policy Center to screen Focus on the Family’s “Truth Project,” a 12-part series espousing a “biblical worldview.”