Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MI) has a shadow over her she can’t seem to shake – a stolen e-mail list that belonged to Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE). I wrote about the stolen list in January, with the connection being Bachmann’s refusal to pay five staff members until they signed a nondisclosure agreement.
[…] an illegally obtained email list. Barb Heki, a Bachmann campaign volunteer and Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) board member, ”inadvertently transferred the organization’s email list to the campaign’s database” from her laptop.
Justin LaVan, president of the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, told ABCNews that Heki had “a computer with NICHE stuff and campaign stuff and somehow the files got mixed up. In an e-mail to the people on the list, he said “I want to apologize on behalf of the NICHE Board and advise you that we discovered that our list of home school contacts was uploaded without our knowledge or permission by the Michele Bachmann Campaign and used twice for e-mails from her campaign.”
I’m sure it was just a coincidence that the homeschooling constituency was credited with helping Bachmann’s fellow nut-job politician, Mike Huckabee, win the Iowa caucuses in 2008. Surely, the Bachmann campaign wouldn’t want to capitalize on that? (Holding up sarcasm sign here!) This claim was reported byABCNews in December 2011. Bachmann currently is a defendant in a Polk County, Iowa lawsuit, where Urbandale, Iowa police are investigating the alleged theft of the e-mail list.
So the official excuse, originally, was that a campaign volunteer who was a board member for NICHE “accidentally” used the e-mail list that was on her laptop. But now, a different story is coming to light.
A signed affidavit dated September 4, 2012, has surfaced. In the affidavit, Eric Woolson, a campaign manager for Bachmann’s bizarre GOP 2011 primary run, accused Kent Sorenson, the Iowa chairman of Bachmann’s campaign and a state senator, of stealing the list from Heki’s computer. When Woolson confronted Sorenson with his concerns, Sorenson was flippant.
“Kent smiled at me and said, ‘Do you want to know how it happened?'” Woolson writes.
I said, “No,” and tried to back out of his office.
Kent said, “We took it.” Kent said they weren’t getting anything from Barb (Heki), so when she stepped out of the office they took it.
Kent said, “We stood watch.” (The Iowa Republican)
On Wednesday, The Iowa Republican viewed a copy of Woolson’s sworn and notarized affidavit, dated September 4, 2012. The NICHE e-mail list is valuable because homeschooling groups strongly favor GOP candidates. Two mass e-mails to NICHE list members were sent out by the Bachmann campaign with the knowledge of the Bachmann campaign’s national campaign manager, Keith Nahigian.
Here’s the shocker: Bachmann herself told Heki that Kent Sorenson took the list from Heki’s computer.
“Michele (Bachmann) told me,” Heki said. “We had a private staff luncheon right after she left the race and she came up to me then and told me that she was told that Kent did it. I was flabbergasted. When Michele and I got done talking, I walked straight over to Eric Woolson and asked him if it was true. He said, “Yes.” (The Iowa Republican)
From an anonymous source:
“I certainly can attest that I was in the office and I was aware that the list was taken,” a senior Bachmann campaign aide, who asked that their name be withheld, tells TheIowaRepublican.com. “I can attest to the fact that Kent Sorenson was part of the process of removing the list.”
The same source said that Bachmann campaign was aware of the “accident” and had internal debates about how to do damage control.
“I am confident that Kent Sorenson participated in the theft and I am confident that members of the senior staff were aware of it, certainly on or before December,” the former Bachmann aide said. “And they debated it for three weeks, the senior staff, what to do. Over loud objections, they let Barb take the fall for it.”
It appears that Heki was innocent and that Bachmann campaign staff committed the crime. Heki says that she and her husband have suffered serious damage as a result of the theft.
“It’s been horrible,” Barb Heki said. “I can’t even describe how horrible it’s been, when your name is maligned as a thief nationwide, your whole world is collapsing. There isn’t any waking moment when my bad reputation isn’t on my mind. It’s horrible. It’s affected our whole family.”
In July, 2012,Heki and her husband filed a lawsuit against Bachmann, Sorenson, Nahigian, Woolson, and others on the counts of trespass, conversion, computer trespass, misappropriation of trade secrets, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, conspiracy, and concerted action. (Politico)
This will be interesting to watch. Who do you think will do jail time over this?
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.