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Continued: House Ethics Committee extends Michele Bachmann investigation

  • Article by: KEVIN DIAZ , Star Tribune
  • Last update: September 11, 2013 - 11:08 PM

Waldron said the Ethics Committee is pursuing the case because it “could not ignore the evidence.”

Differences in cooperation

The OCE report indicates that while Bachmann cooperated with investigators, Short and Sorenson did not. The OCE board recommended that they be subpoenaed. The two have publicly denied any wrongdoing.

Short’s attorney, Chris DeLacy, said that as a private citizen, Short does not fall within the OCE’s jurisdiction.

“It is unconscionable that the OCE has insinuated in its report that Mr. Short engaged in inappropriate behavior merely because he chose not to fully participate in their investigation,” DeLacy said. “Mr. Short has done nothing improper or illegal.”

Two other allegations now before the Ethics Committee involve accusations that Bachmann used campaign staffers to help promote her autobiography, “Core of Conviction.”

Like the campaign-finance allegations, the questions surrounding her book will likely leave an ethical cloud over Bachmann until she leaves office next year. “One would hope it’s over before she leaves Congress,” Allison said. “But I’ve seen these things go on for a long time.”

Bachmann’s decision not to seek a fifth term could have been a factor in the panel’s decision to extend the inquiry without empaneling an investigative subcommittee, Allison said. Another could be the continuing Justice Department investigation.

But because of the secretive nature of the Ethics Committee, Allison said, “if you’re a member of the public, you have no idea what’s going on.”

The OCE was set up in 2008 in response to criticism that members of Congress did a poor job of policing themselves. Among the OCE’s eight-member board of directors is former U.S. Rep. Bill Frenzel, a Minnesota Republican.

Ultimately, the Ethics Committee does not sanction lawmakers but makes recommendations to the whole House on what actions to take.

 

Follow Kevin Diaz on Twitter at StribDiaz

  • related content

  • Rep. Michelle Bachmann, R- Minn.

  • the back story

    • Michele Bachmann’s national field coordinator in the 2012 presidential race, Peter Waldron (above), filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that her campaign improperly used leadership PAC funds to pay presidential campaign staff.

    • That triggered investigations by the FEC, FBI and Office of Congressional Ethics.

    • The OCE referred the case to the House Ethics Committee, which is reviewing the allegations of campaign finance or ethical improprieties.

    • The Iowa Supreme Court is investigating allegations of hidden payments to state Sen. Kent Sorenson, Bachmann’s Iowa chairman.

    • Bachmann’s use of an Iowa home-schooling e-mail list was settled in a separate lawsuit but remains under investigation by Des Moines police.

    • The U.S. Justice Department has subpoenaed records as part of a federal grand jury investigation.

    • Bachmann’s lawyers have denied any wrongdoing on her part, and she is retiring.

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