U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has excelled in her ability to gather small contributions from donors.
But this year, the amount of her donations that were under $200 topped the charts, drawing attention from the Federal Election Commission. In three months preceding July, she had taken in $614,000 in small donations, about 75 percent of her total haul for the quarter. Candidates do not need to disclose the names, occupations and address of donors who give less than $200 but for donors who give above that amount candidates need to disclose all that information.
Back in September, the Federal Election Commission reminded Bachmann, who is not running for re-election, of that rule and asked her to confirm that she was following the letter of the law.
In response this week, Bachmann pledged she was.
"The committee received a high volume of smaller contributions," Nancy Watkins, Bachmann's treasurer, told the FEC.
Bachmann's take in small, undisclosed donations skyrocketed as her national star rose.
According to calculations from the Center for Responsive Politics, 64 percent of her fundraising for her congressional committee in 2012 was from small, undisclosed donors. In 2010, her under-$200 donation was 55 percent of the total. In 2008, it was just 28 percent.
According to her October filing with the Federal Election Commission, Bachmann received no contributions from individuals in the last three months. She announced she was not running for re-election in May.
The recent hauls from small dollar donors are high compared to most members of congress -- even those who have national followings.
Democrat U.S. Sen. Al Franken has taken in 34 percent of his total haul from donations under $200, according to figures tracked by the Center for Responsive Politics, and took in about the same in the 2012 and 2010 cycles. Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, brought in 17 percent of his 2014 cash from undisclosed, small dollar donors. And Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, of California, has brought in 27 percent from those donors.
But, unlike Bachmann, none of those have run for president.
Bachmann's 2012 presidential campaign has been under considerable scrutiny for its campaign finance dealings. Thus far her congressional campaign, which has helped fund her presidential campaign debt, has not been under similar examination by regulators. The letter from the FEC may indicate a change in that.
The House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday that it will extend its probe of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s 2012 White House bid, although it gave no timetable for a resolution of the long-standing case.
The decision came with the release of 430-pages of investigative materials from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which found “substantial reason” to believe Bachmann’s campaign violated campaign finance laws and rules barring the use of campaign staff to promote her book, “Core of Conviction.”
The OCE report is the first by any of the half-dozen federal and state agencies investigating Bachmann's campaign that offers an official window into the nature and the scope of the allegations arising from Bachmann’s topsy-turvy White House bid.
While deciding to pursue the Bachmann case further, the Ethics Committee leaves the four-term congresswoman somewhat in an ethical limbo: The committee chose not to dismiss the case against her; nor did it immediately impanel a subcommittee to conduct hearings into the case.
From the people who brought you the federal election complaints and affidavits against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, now comes the book: “Bachmannistan."
The tell-all book comes direct from the whistleblower, Florida minister Peter Waldron, the man behind most of the legal turmoil that has visited the Minnesota congresswoman since she ran for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The “report from the inside” is co-authored by Twin Cities attorney John Gilmore, the lawyer who represented former Bachmann aide Andy Parrish, who helped engineer her run for the presidency before a falling out in Iowa.
The subhead for the new digital book, which will be distributed through Amazon on Kindle, is “Behind the Lines,” -- a line Bachmann herself likes to use to describe her presence in the Washington swamp.
While the broad outlines of the tale might be familiar to readers who have followed the Bachmann campaign saga since its slow unraveling in late 2011, Waldron promises that much remains to be told, and he’s naming names.
“It’s explosive,” said Waldron, who was the campaign’s point man for the evangelical pastor community. “It’s like handling an IED.”
While promising to pull no punches, Waldron credits Gilmore with imposing some lawyerly restraint on the Bachmann story. “He threw his body over some of the grenades,” Waldron said.