WASHINGTON — Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) for alleged misuse of campaign funds, her attorney confirmed Monday.
“There are no allegations that the congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing,” her attorney, William McGinley of Patton Boggs, said in a statement. “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.”
An OCE investigation is a preliminary probe; the office can either dismiss a case or recommend a full House Ethics Committee investigation.
The inquiry was first reported by the Daily Beast.
Peter Waldron, who was Bachmann’s national field coordinator in the 2012 presidential race, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that the lawmaker’s campaign improperly used leadership PAC funds to pay campaign staff members. Consultant Guy Short, he alleges, was paid with MichelePAC money.
He also charges that payments to Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, were concealed due to ethics rules that bar legislators from being employed by campaigns. Both Bachmann and Sorenson have denied those allegations.
Bachmann’s presidential campaign came under fire in 2011 for sending two e-mails to a Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) list, in violation of the group’s non-profit status. Eric Woolson, who managed Bachmann’s Iowa campaign, testified in a sworn affidavit that Sorenson took the e-mail list and that Bachmann acknowledged that she was aware of the alleged theft. Bachmann’s campaign said at the time that the use was inadvertent, a characterization Woolson’s testimony appears to contradict.
Barb Heki, who worked on Bachmann’s campaign, is suing the congresswoman and former senior aides over the misappropriation of the list, alleging that staffers stole it off her computer and then blamed her when the misuse went public. She has also filed a criminal complaint, which Urbandale police are investigating.