The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday that it is extending its investigation into alleged campaign finance irregularities by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). At issue is whether the congresswoman’s 2012 presidential campaign used money from her political action committee to pay staff and whether she used campaign staff and resources on her book tour.
The Daily Beast has exclusively obtained a copy of the original complaint against Bachmann, filed in February with the Office of Congressional Ethics by former campaign staffer Peter Waldron. Waldron, who recently released an e-book, Bachmannistan, about Bachmann’s presidential campaign, makes five allegations against the four-term congresswoman, who said in May that she will not seek reelection in 2014.
In the complaint, Waldron alleges that the Bachmann campaign funneled money to C&M Strategies, a firm owned by Bachmann’s longtime direct-mail consultant, Guy Short, to pay Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson an illicit six-figure salary. According to the complaint, “The apparent reasons for the sleight of hand payments were possibly to avoid a violation of IA Senate Rule 6 that prohibits State Senators from working for Presidential Campaigns in Iowa and/or to avoid creditors, [including] the IRS, owed money by Senator Sorenson.” Waldron also accuses Short, who held the title of national political director in the Bachmann campaign, of violating Federal Election Commission rules by receiving money from the Minnesota congresswoman’s political action committee while serving as full-time staff on her campaign.
Bachmann’s presidential campaign also allegedly worked on the book tour for her 2011 memoir, Core of Conviction, says Waldron in the complaint. He supplies detailed emails from November 2011 that appear to direct campaign staff to assist at book signings across Iowa. In one email, campaign consultant Eric Woolson tells staff:
“All—the Mason city event was a disaster. Please get in touch with anyone you know who might turn out for the following events and remind them about the events. It’d be great if they buy books but, remember, not everyone does or not everyone goes to these events thinking they’re going to buy. WE NEED BODIES AT THESE EVENTS TODAY AND TOMORROW!”
Finally Waldron makes detailed claims about the campaign’s alleged theft of an email list of Iowa families who home-school their children. He accuses the campaign of covering up the theft from a volunteer’s computer and refusing to pay campaign workers who were cooperating with local police investigations.
All of these allegations will continue to be investigated, either by the House Ethics Committee or the Federal Election Commission, with no clear timeline for when the committee will complete its work.
On Wednesday, Bachmann rebutted the allegations, saying she had not violated any laws or regulations. “Although I do not believe a referral was warranted, I respect the committee process, and I look forward to a successful conclusion to this matter,” she was quoted as saying in USA Today.