Bachmann says ethics complaints a ‘campaign’ issue

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U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann at the State Capitol on July 30, 2013 (Tom Scheck/MPR news)

Rep. Michele Bachmann says an investigation by the U.S. House Ethics Committee into her 2012 presidential campaign is nothing more than a political smear.

Last week, the Ethics Committee announced that it had received the results of an investigation into Bachmann's campaign by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics and would decide whether to launch its own formal investigation by Sept. 11.

Speaking to reporters at the State Capitol Tuesday, Bachmann, a Republican, suggested the allegations that her campaign made improper payments to consultants and used staffers to promote her autobiography were part of an attempt to remove her from Congress.

"In my opinion that was probably meant to be the basis of a campaign," Bachmann said.

That issue is now moot as Bachmann decided a few weeks ago to retire from Congress at the end of her current term. In her responses to reporters Tuesday, Bachmann said the investigations had no bearing on her decision to leave Congress and that she's confident the House Ethics Committee will find no evidence of improper behavior.

"I don't think anything is going to come from it," said Bachmann, who added that such probes often last for years.

Bachmann's claim that the investigations are politically motivated doesn't jibe with the identities of those making some of the complaints against her. Many of the allegations come from a former campaign staffer, Peter Waldron, who shares an evangelical background with Bachmann and has worked as a political operative for other conservative Republicans. A former chief of staff and campaign manager to Bachmann, Andy Parrish, has provided an affidavit suggesting Bachmann was aware of some of the allegedly improper behavior and has been interviewed by the FBI in a related probe of her campaign's activities. Another accuser was Barbara Heki, who also worked for Bachmann and accused fellow staffers of stealing an email list of potential supporters that belonged to Heki. A civil lawsuit brought by Heki against Bachmann was recently dismissed.

When asked about that matter Tuesday, Bachmann said, "That's been resolved."

MPR’s Tom Scheck contributed to this report…

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