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Editorial: GOP love for sale

Frankly, we can’t imagine why anyone would support either Michele Bachmann or Ron Paul for president, if not paid to do so.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened. Former Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson pleaded guilty this week and faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

He secretly took money to back Bachmann’s 2012 Republican campaign in Iowa — then dramatically switched sides after getting more secret money to endorse Republican Paul. It was cash-and-carry politics. Here’s the tale:

Sorenson headed Bachmann’s presidential campaign in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation primary election. But in December 2011, he publicly flip-flopped to support Texas maverick Paul. At the time, Bachmann said he was paid to switch, but her accusation drew angry denials.

Bachmann evidently knew what she was talking about, because her staff reportedly had funneled illegal money to Sorenson through disguised channels.

Later, a former Bachmann aide sued, claiming that Sorenson had stolen her prized email list of fundamentalist conservatives who home-school their children.

A year ago, a right-wing activist accused Paul’s staff of paying bribes to Sorenson through illicit “fronts.” Iowa’s Senate ethics committee hired an investigator to probe the charge. Like most accused politicians, the senator called the investigation a “sham” and a “straight-up political witch-hunt.”

Last October, the investigator filed a damning report saying Sorenson had taken hidden Bachmann payments that had been routed through consulting firms. The senator resigned. A Justice Department probe continued.

Now Sorenson has admitted the whole sordid mess. He got $73,000 in concealed money — partly through a company headed by a Paul staffer’s wife and partly through two other firms.

Since he pleaded guilty, we hope it means that he will testify against all the GOP operatives who provided the dirty money. Paul’s former campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, now heads the re-election committee of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

Ultraconservative columnist Michelle Malkin wrote a 2010 book accusing Democrats of having a “Culture of Corruption.” We wonder what she’ll say about Republicans who bribe fellow Republicans for campaign endorsements.

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