Representative Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) announced on Wednesday that she would not seek reelection for a fifth term in Congress next year, amid claims from a former aide that she may have used House committee money for her presidential campaign in 2012.
In January, former Bachmann aide Peter Waldron filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission stating that Bachmann had paid an Iowa state senator and chairman of her presidential campaign, Kent Sorenson, with House committee money. Waldron claims the funds were funneled through C&M Strategies, a company owned by Bachmann’s political director.
Waldron decided to go public after Bachmann announced that the campaign was short on money and that staff would have to work without pay – meanwhile, Sorenson continued to receive payments through C&M.
"I find that kind of behavior reprehensible," Waldron said. "It's when I made that discovery that I felt a duty to report it to the FEC."
Waldron also accused Sorenson of stealing a list of Christian home-school groups’ email addresses and using them for campaign mailing. However, Waldron declined to expose his evidence publicly, and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee quickly dismissed the case after deciding that there was little evidence of his claims.
Considering Waldron’s colorful past, the allegations may be a part of his penchant for theatrics. In the 1990s, Waldron started a Florida charity that received $600,000 in state and local funds. The charity collapsed from mismanagement, and some claimed that Waldron was paying himself with the remaining funds. In 2006, he was arrested and jailed on terrorism charges in Uganda for possessing assault rifles, and later claimed that President George W. Bush bailed him out. This year, he released a comical low-budget trailer chronicling his life events since Uganda.
In a video posted on her website, Bachmann said that her decision was not based on recent inquiries into her former presidential staff and campaign, or concerns about winning an election.
“If I ran I would again defeat the individual who I defeated last year,” Bachmann said confidently, adding that she would consider a future in the political arena.