U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s problems with the House Ethics Committee are not going away anytime soon.
On Friday, the chair and ranking member of the committee, a Democrat and a Republican, announced that a review of her case will be extended another 45 days, meaning that the earliest a decision can be expected is on Sept. 11.
The Ethics Committee extension is routine, but it also signifies the first public acknowledgement by any federal entity of the multiple allegations of campaign finance or ethical improprieties by her 2012 presidential campaign.
The Bachmann case was referred to the committee on June 13 by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which has interviewed former Bachmann staffers about allegations of improper payments and the use of campaign staffers to promote her book, Core of Conviction.
Bachmann’s attorneys have denied any wrongdoing on her part. She has announced she will not seek re-election.
The ethics panel faced a Sunday deadline to dismiss the case or extend it for further review. Under House rules, the committee now faces a September deadline to drop the case or pursue it further, possibly leading to sanctions.
The panel has yet to disclose publicly the nature of the allegations under review. The campaign also is being investigated by the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Meanwhile, officials in Iowa are investigating allegations of improper payments to state Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s Iowa chairman. Urbandale police also continue to probe theft allegations involving a database in the custody of ex-Bachmann staffer Barb Heki, who recently settled a lawsuit against the Bachmann campaign.
As the investigations continue, Bachmann's legal bills continue to mount. Bachmann has racked up nearly $200,000 in legal expenses so far this year, according to her presidential, congressional, and leadership PAC reports to the FEC. That spending comes on top of $260,000 in billings to her principal law firm, Patton Boggs, in 2011 and 2012.
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