Ethics Committee to announce next steps in Bachmann case in September

WASHINGTON – The House Ethics Committee confirmed Friday that it is reviewing an ethics case involving 6th District U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann and that a decision on whether to suspend, drop or further investigate the matter is due by Sept. 11.

The announcement from the top Republican and Democrat on the ethics panel is the first official confirmation that investigators were probing Bachmann, although it’s been an open secret in Washington and Minnesota for months.

The case was referred to the committee by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics last month. That office, along with the FBI and Federal Election Commission, have been looking into various allegations regarding the conduct of Bachmann’s unsuccessful presidential bid. Among the allegations are charges that Bachmann’s campaign made improper payments to consultants via a separate political action committee and that campaign staff were involved in the book tour of Bachmann’s autobiography.

The statement from the committee announcing that it was reviewing the OCE’s report emphasized that “the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”

Bachmann announced in May that she would not seek another term in Congress but denied that the ongoing investigations had anything to do with her decision.

Still, the legal costs associated with the ethics probes have been costly to Bachmann. The various political committees she controls reported spending more than $185,000 on legal fees between April 1 and June 30, a substantial rise from past years.