House Ethics Committee looking into Michele Bachmann


Michele Bachmann faces an ethics probe. (AP Photo/The Star Tribune, Glen Stubbe)

The House Ethics Committee has confirmed an ongoing review into Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), which has just been extended.

Bachmann's lawyer confirmed in March that the Office of Congressional Ethics was looking into the congresswoman's campaign finances. The OCE, a non-partisan, independent entity, can either dismiss a case or recommend a full House Ethics Committee investigation.

"[T]he 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," the committee said in a statement.

William McGinley, Bachmann's lawyer, referred to the panel's statement in an e-mail, emphasizing the extension "does not speak to the merits of this matter, and any inference to the contrary is false.

"We are confident the Committee will discover, upon proper review, that the highly politicized allegations made at the OCE level were baseless and without merit," he wrote.

According to the Star Tribune, the OCE focused its questions on Bachmann's 2011 book tour.

Peter Waldron, who served as 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 presidential campaign staff. Consultant Guy Short, he alleges, was paid with MichelePAC funds. 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.

A separate lawsuit over Bachmann's use of an Iowa homeschooling e-mail list has been settled, but remains under investigation by Des Moines police.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also looking into allegations of financial impropriety in Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign.

The congresswoman is retiring at the end of this term.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · July 26, 2013