Bachmann's book tour to promote moribund autobiography has her in fresh trouble with feds

Depending on the results of the preliminary investigation into the latest allegations, Bachmann could face a House Ethics Committee review or worse.
Depending on the results of the preliminary investigation into the latest allegations, Bachmann could face a House Ethics Committee review or worse.
Image by Tatiana Craine

Michele Bachmann's late 2011 tour to promote her autobiography, "Core of Conviction," has apparently landed her in fresh trouble with federal investigators.

HAPPENING THIS WEEKEND: Michele Bachmann and Bradlee Dean both set to speak at right-wing event

After six weeks of promotional touring and nearly two years on the shelves, Bachmann's autobiography has still only sold 3,000 copies. But her troubles go beyond an inability to sell books.

According to a Star Tribune report, "Congressional ethics investigators are examining whether top staffers in Rep. Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign played an improper role in the 2011 tour to promote her personal memoir." The Strib's sources are two former Bachmann aides who acknowledged "they have been questioned about the book tour by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which has been looking into separate allegations of campaign finance violations." (Read our blog post about those "separate allegations" here.)

By and large, federal election laws and House ethics rules require candidates to keep the funds they use for campaigning separate from the funds they use to promote private business interests, like books. But two emails obtained by the Strib show that Bachmann's campaign aides seemed to view book signings as campaign events.

From the Strib:

[I]nternal e-mails obtained by the newspaper appear to show that top campaign advisers were intimately involved in the promotional details. One, written by campaign fundraiser Guy Short, suggested using Bachmann's list of Iowa supporters to boost attendance at her book events: "Can we push people to these events through IA (Iowa) emails?" he wrote on Nov. 25 to campaign strategist Rebecca Donatelli.

Another e-mail, written the same day by Iowa campaign manager Eric Woolson, noted that the tour's first Iowa stop in Mason City was a "disaster." He urged in all caps, "WE NEED BODIES AT THESE EVENTS TODAY and TOMORROW!"

"Reporters covering the campaign frequently saw Bachmann's paid campaign staff at her book events, which were promoted in Bachmann campaign news releases," the Strib's Kevin Diaz reports. On one occasion, a Bachmann campaign staffer was even videotaped holding up a promotional placard for her book at a signing.

Bachmann's campaign lawyer, William McGinley, denies there was any wrongdoing.

"Records show that the campaign was very careful to ensure that protocols were in place to keep the book tour and presidential campaign completely separate and distinct," said McGinley told the Strib. "Any fair and objective review of the record will conclude that Congresswoman Bachmann and the campaign followed the FEC [Federal Election Commission] advisory opinions and acted appropriately."

We're just wondering how long it'll be before Michele gets around to blaming this latest mess on Democrats.

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