Ethics committee extends Bachmann investigation

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at the State Capitol on July 30, 2013 (Tom Scheck/MPR news)

WASHINGTON -The U.S. House Ethics Committee announced today it is extending its probe into the presidential campaign activities of Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

It means Bachmann’s legal woes won’t go away anytime soon.

The allegations, which go back to Bachmann’s unsuccessful bid for the White House, were all raised by  former campaign staffer Peter Waldron, who has since published a tell-all book. Among them are complaints that one of Bachmann’s advisers was improperly paid from a separate political action committee controlled by Bachmann and that a book tour to promote Bachmann’s autobiography may have illegally used campaign resources.

The committee also released hundreds of pages of documents and a report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics which referred the matter to the Ethics Committee on a unanimous vote.

One matter not in the committee documents is a report published last week by the New York Times that a federal grand jury is looking into whether Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, may have broken campaign finance rules.

Bachmann, who is not running for re-election, released this statement:

“During my presidential campaign, I complied with all applicable laws and regulations, including House Ethics Rules.  My campaign included experienced staff and advisers who, among other things, administered and managed the financial dealings of the campaign.  My directive to them was clear and unequivocal: to be sure that the campaign complied with all relevant laws.  The report released today makes no finding that I or anyone on my campaign staff did anything to the contrary; it simply has referred certain matters to the Committee responsible for reviewing these issues.  As the Committee’s statement points out, ‘the mere fact of conducting further review … does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.’  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.”