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Attorney named to investigate Senator ethics case

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A Des Moines attorney has been appointed to serve as an independent investigator to determine whether a state senator violated Senate rules by taking payment from former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann.

Mark Weinhardt has been appointed by Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady as independent special counsel. The Iowa State Senate Ethics Committee voted May 1 to seek a special investigator.

Weinhardt will determine whether Republican Sen. Kent Sorenson, of Milo, was paid for campaign work on behalf Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman who campaigned for president between June 2011 and January 2012.

Two former Bachmann campaign staffers say Sorenson was indirectly paid $7,500 a month.

Iowa Senate ethics rules bar paid employment with political campaigns.

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

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