Bachmann’s Presidential Campaign Probed by Ethics Watchdog


Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Federal investigators are probing allegations that Rep. Michele Bachmann, or members of her staff, inappropriately used money raised during her presidential campaign, her lawyer and former campaign staffers said on Monday.

Bachmann has not been formally accused of any wrong doing, but staffers said they had been questioned by federal authorities.  The investigators are working on behalf of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

Bachmann’s attorney confirmed to ABC News that Bachmann was being probed by the OCE, but denied any wrongdoing.

“There are no allegations that the congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing,” campaign lawyer William McGinley told ABC News in a statement.

“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,” he said.

Others confirmed that they had been contacted by investigators.

“I was questioned by federal investigators,” said Peter Waldron, a member of Bachmann’s Iowa campaign staff.

Waldron had filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in January alleging inappropriate use of campaign funds.  He said the interview covered some 40 questions and took place in his Florida offices.

Waldron has complained both to the FEC and to the media that he was never fully compensated by the Bachmann campaign, but said on Monday he could not discuss the specifics of his interview, although he said the questions pertained to the allegations made in his FEC complaint.

Among those allegations are that Bachmann’s one-time Iowa campaign chair, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, received money under the table for his support.  Sorenson’s position in the legislature prohibits him from receiving payments from the campaign.

Waldron also accused a staffer of illicitly receiving funds from both the campaign and a political action committee — a violation of federal election laws.

Waldron, a fundamentalist pastor who worked in Iowa and often led Bachmann and staffers in prayer, further accused the campaign of failing to pay staffers and then requiring them to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to get paid.

Staffers received copies of the NDA after police in Urbandale, Iowa, began their own investigation into allegations that campaign officials stole a list of families who home-schooled their children — an influential Iowa voting bloc.

Waldron also provided a notarized copy of an affidavit by Eric Woolson, another staffer who alleges that he was told by Sorenson and others how the list of home-schooled families was stolen.

The owner of the list, Barb Heki, who worked for a home-schooling advocacy organization and volunteered for the campaign, has filed a separate lawsuit against Bachmann.

Another Bachmann campaign staffer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed being questioned by federal investigators.

The OCE would not confirm or deny the investigation, which was first reported by the Daily Beast.

The FEC confirmed receiving Waldron’s complaint but would not comment on whether an investigation was launched as a result.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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