WASHINGTON -- Legal expenses for Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) soared in the month after congressional ethics and criminal investigations were opened into allegations that the four-term congresswoman had misused funds from her 2012 presidential campaign.
Since the beginning of 2013, Bachmann has spent more than $200,000 on legal expenses, using money from her congressional campaign, presidential campaign and leadership PAC. This is far above the average for legal costs incurred by a House campaign at this point in the election cycle.
The vast majority of that money -- $190,054 -- was spent after it was announced in May that the Department of Justice had opened an investigation into her failed presidential bid. The Office of Congressional Ethics had previously announced an investigation into Bachmann's campaign. Patton Boggs attorney William McGinley, the lawyer for Bachmann's congressional and presidential campaigns, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two former aides to Bachmann's presidential campaign have alleged that she arranged for secret payments to Iowa state Sen. Kent Sorenson, who served as chairman of her Iowa campaign. Sorenson denies these allegations as does Bachmann.
The Office of Congressional Ethics has completed its investigation and referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee for further investigation, although the committee is not required to do so. MinnPost suggested Wednesday that the ethics panel would not make any decision until fall at the earliest.
Bachmann announced that she would not seek reelection in 2014 soon after the investigations were launched. She was coming off her closest reelection contest and was apparently set for a rematch with 2012 opponent Jim Graves in what was seen as a potential pickup for Democrats despite the Republican lean of the district.
Rep. Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.) spent the second most among House members on legal expenses, forking out $60,000 in the first half of 2013. His expenses came early in the year, and Grimm reported no legal expenses from April through June.
Grimm is facing both Justice Department and congressional ethics investigations into allegations that his 2010 campaign accepted illegal and excessive campaign donations. The House Ethics Committee has deferred its probe while the Justice Department proceeds. Grimm has denied the allegations.