Michele Bachmann may be in some serious trouble.
For starters, it seems she may have used presidential campaign staff to support her book tour during her unsuccessful bid for the presidency last year. The Star Tribune reported on April 17th that
Congressional ethics investigators are examining whether top staffers in Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign played an improper role in the 2011 tour to promote her personal memoir, two former Bachmann aides have told the Star Tribune.
Federal election rules, as well as House ethics rules, prohibit the use of campaign funds to promote or sell a candidate’s book or to support other business activities.
Also, her campaign may have stolen or otherwise inappropriately obtained an e-mail list of Iowa homeschoolers from one Barbara Heki, presumably for use in the Iowa phase of the campaign. Heki has initiated a law suit alleging that Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson stole the list from her personal computer. This has led to a criminal investigation by police in Urbandale, Iowa and the Iowa State Police, and is apparently being looked at by the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics.
In addition, it has ben suggested that Senator Sorenson received $7,500 a month via the Colorado based consulting firm C&M Strategies, which is run by Bachmann’s fundraiser Guy Short. The money, or some of it anyway, may h ave come from Short’s other group, MichelePAC. This is apparently also a violation of ethics and campaign rules and/or laws.
The latest development makes this list of oddities suddenly very relevant. These alleged activities came to light in part from information provided by former Bachmann staffer Peter Waldron, a pastor from Florida. As this story has unfolded, there was a second witness to these events identified by the FEC known as “Witness A.” Now, Witness A has been identified as former Bachmann chief of staff Andy Parrish, and he is expected to testify, giving collaboration to Waldron’s claims which have been denied by the Bachmann camp.
The six-member panel — made up of three Republicans and three Democrats — also directed the Secretary of the Iowa Senate, Michael Marshall, to get an update on the status of the police investigation in the Heki case.
Iowa Sen. Wally Horn, a Democrat who chairs the ethics committee, said the panel felt it needs to move forward to resolve the allegations or dismiss them. Waldron originally filed three complaints against Sorenson with the ethics panel in January. One of them, alleging improper business disclosures, has been dismissed. The other two complaints, alleging hidden payments and misappropriation of the e-mail list, are still pending.
Horn said he hopes to resolve the ethics complaints before the legislature adjourns next month. Meanwhile, two sources close to the Bachmann campaign have told the Star Tribune that congressional ethics investigators have questioned them about allegations that her presidential campaign played an improper role in her 2011 book tour.
And the, of course, there’s the whole dwarf-mud-wrestling thing.