Michele Bachmann’s campaign for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination is being investigated by federal authorities.
Investigators from the Office of Congressional Ethics are probing into allegations that the Minnesota Republican’s campaign used donated funds illegally, failed to pay staffers, and improperly obtained a list of families who home school their children in Iowa.
In January, former Bachmann staffer Peter Waldron filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Committee. Waldron was the campaign’s national field coordinator from July 2011 to January 2012.
In his complaint, Waldron asserted that Bachmann’s campaign illicitly paid state chairman and Iowa Senator Kent Sorenson $7,500 per month for his work with the campaign. Sorenson’s position as a senator prohibits him from receiving payments from any political campaign.
Waldron accused another unnamed staffer of receiving funds from both the campaign and a political action committee, which is a violation of federal election law.
Waldron’s complaint also claimed that he and other staffers were never fully compensated by the Bachmann campaign. He said that in order to receive compensation, he and other unpaid staffers were forced to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements forbidding them from speaking with attorneys or law enforcement without first obtaining the permission of the campaign.
Another campaign staffer, Bob Heki, sued Bachmann’s campaign for illegally obtaining and using a private email list. The list showed families in Iowa who home school their children, a key bloc of voters in the state.
Bachmann’s campaign attorney William Mckginley acknowledged that the campaign is under investigation, but denied that the campaign took part in any illegal activities.
“There are no allegations that the congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing,” he said. “We are constructively engaged with the OCE and are confident that at the end of their review the OCE Board will conclude that Congresswoman Bachmann did not do anything inappropriate.”
Bachmann’s short-lived campaign ended after a disappointing last place finish in the GOP’s 2012 Iowa Caucus. The congresswoman’s campaign received brief national attention in 2011 after winning the Ames, Iowa straw poll. In the days leading up the Iowa caucus, Senator Sorenson left Bachmann’s campaign and joined forces with Congressman Ron Paul.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent organization whose employees work for the House of Representatives. If the organization finds Bachmann’s campaign guilty of any wrongdoing, they will submit their findings to the House Ethics Committee. The Ethics Committee will then review the findings, and either conduct further investigations or recommend penalties based on the case.