Bachmann facing ethics probe after campaign finance complaint

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., speaks at a Tea Party Express Rally at Waterworks Park on August 31, 2011 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

The tables have turned for Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., the former fundraising baron who once enjoyed top billing in the 2012 Republican presidential field: More than a year since dropping her White House bid and five months after she narrowly eked out reelection to her House seat, the Minnesota congresswoman is being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) for alleged misuse of campaign funds.

Having laid relatively low since her jarringly narrow win in November, Bachmann is back in the headlines with the Daily Beast's report that Peter Waldron, who served as national field coordinator for Bachmann's presidential run, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging several counts of campaign fund abuse.

In his complaint, Waldron accuses the tea party darling's campaign of using funds from her political action committee MichelePAC to pay at least one staffer, and withholding paychecks to other staff members who refused to sign confidentiality agreements. He also alleges the campaign offered concealed payments to Bachmann's former Iowa campaign chairman Kent Sorenson, a state senator who Waldron says was legally ineligible to perform paid work for a presidential campaign under Iowa Senate rules.

Other former staffers across the country have confirmed to the Daily Beast that they are being interviewed about Waldron's complaint - specifically what and when Bachmann knew about the alleged misuse.

Bachmann's attorney William McGinley, of Patton Boggs, told the Washington Post: "There are no allegations that the Congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing. 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."

As the ongoing probe is preliminary, depending on its findings the OCE will either dismiss the case or hand it off to the House Ethics Committee for a full investigation.

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