Michele Bachmann was never going to be president. Her quirky, doomed campaign elevated the four-term Congressmember from Minnesota to increased public attention. It also spurred attention, it was revealed today, from the Office of Congressional Ethics.
John Avlon at the Daily Beast reports on the OCE's quiet investigation.
The Daily Beast has learned that federal investigators are now interviewing former Bachmann campaign staffers nationwide about alleged intentional campaign finance violations on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes reported improprieties by House members and their staffs, and then can refer cases to the House Ethics Committee. …
“I have been interviewed by investigators,” says Peter Waldron, a former Bachman staffer who’s embroiled in his own fight with his former boss involving his allegations of pay-to-play politics and improper payments by the campaign — making him one of several members of Bachmann’s inner circle who’ve fallen out with the woman they once hoped would become commander-in-chief.
Waldron is one of the last people Bachmann would want talking to the OCE, mostly because he loves talking to the press. Earlier this year, he accused the campaign in a press release of failing to pay former staffers who weren't willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would prevent the staffers from talking about the campaign publicly. He also filed an ethics complaint against Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson, alleging that Sorenson stole a mailing list from a homeschooling group to use in Bachmann's campaign and — central to the OCE investigation — that he received under-the-table monthly payments from the Bachmann campaign. (Waldron has also been talking to anyone who will listen about, like, debate coaches.)
An attorney for Bachmann insists that OCE wasn't alleging that Bachmann behaved inappropriately and that the congresswoman is working with the investigation. According to Avlon, other staffers have also been contacted and asked about allegations that the presidential campaign improperly paid consultants, and about the extent to which Bachmann knew about the transactions.
Though it lacks subpoena power, the OCE has been central to several other investigations, including those surrounding Rep. Chuck Rangel of New York. But if Bachmann had her way, the OCE wouldn't even exist. Created following the 2006 Abramoff fundraising scandal, creation of the office was approved by the House in 2008. Bachmann voted against it.