While Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was announcing her retirement to much fanfare in the media, according to information given exclusively to Take Action News, the FBI was busy collecting potentially damaging evidence against her from two former campaign aides.
According to sources close to the criminal investigation of Bachmann's presidential campaign, the FBI has now been given sworn testimony and documents alleging Bachmann approved secret payments to Iowa state Senator Kent Sorenson in exchange for his help and support in that state's 2012 Presidential caucuses. Ethics rules explicitly prohibit Iowa lawmakers from accepting payments from Presidential campaigns or PACs. Investigation sources tell Take Action News the FBI is examining money laundering allegations against Bachmann, as well as possible wire fraud and mail fraud.
As we detailed on my nationally syndicated radio and YouTube show Take Action News this past Saturday, the key claims against Bachmann are coming from two of her former campaign insiders -- former Congressional chief of staff Andy Parrish and former national field coordinator Pete Waldron. Waldron has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission, alleging the payments to State Senator Sorenson were improper. Parrish has provided an affidavit to investigators, confirming Bachmann knew of and approved the payments.
I first broke this news on Take Action News in the clip above. Shameless plug: you can subscribe to video clips from the show for free at Youtube.com/takeactionnewstv.
The Iowa Senate Ethics Committee voted more than a month ago to appoint a special investigator to determine whether State Senator Sorenson was guilty of violating Iowa state ethics rules prohibiting direct or indirect employment from a political action committee. The Committee's ongoing investigation of Sorenson is based on Waldron's FEC complaint and Parrish's testimony.
It's not unusual for a political campaign, with all of the paperwork and forms required by the FEC, to make mistakes. Furthermore, many U.S. lawmakers have been fined by the FEC for improper fundraising, spending, and misleading accounting records.
The Bachmann case, though, is different. Her own team is alleging the campaign violations, and declaring that Bachmann knew about the actions in advance. Presumably, Bachmann -- like other Presidential candidates -- signed hundreds of disclosure reports filed with the federal government. If she lied on those reports, or mailed misleading financial statements, however, she may face serious legal trouble.
For her part, Bachmann has told friends that she did nothing wrong. "It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign," Bachmann said in her retirement announcement. "And I have no reason to believe that that was not the case."
Investigators have reason to believe otherwise, however. Was Bachmann's campaign involved in bribery? Money laundering? Or were her actions in this case just the industry standard for a high wire political campaign?
We may eventually get an answer from the FBI, and perhaps a federal prosecutor. In the meantime, the Michele Bachmann circus is going to remain on the national stage.