If Michele Bachmann's congressional career were a House of Cards-style political drama, it would probably last for about six, one-hour episodes, Bachmann would be played by a tyrannical muppet, and every scene that didn't include her would feature real actors engaged in some variation of the following conversation:
Actor A: I can't believe people are actually supporting Michele. Don't they realize she's a muppet?
(Actor B shakes head, pours whiskey, sighs, drains glass.)
After that storyline had run its course, and with ratings in the toilet, network execs would demand a premature, splashy finale, and the show's writers would oblige: the Bachmann muppet would be torn apart by rabid wolves during an ill-advised hike through wolf country, Marcus Bachmann would move to Arizona to breed Australian cattle dogs with a young, brooding campaign staffer named Edmund, and a penultimate montage to the tune of "Hard Candy Christmas" would feature disillusioned campaign staffers trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, apply for new jobs, get paid for their work on the Bachmann presidential campaign, and slowly drink themselves into sweet, cynical oblivion
Michele Bachmann's political career, according to the Daily Beast's extensive litany of all her pending legal woes and rhetorical missteps, is like a mountain of dry tissue paper that someone has set fire to.
Things are fucked in Bachlandia — the former Republican presidential frontrunner (think about that for a moment) is mired in so many legal proceedings related to her failed presidential bid that just reading through them will make your eyes water. To top it all off, the Office of Congressional Ethics is following up with allegations from former Bachmann campaign staffers of intentional campaign finance violations. If investigators working for the OCE determine that there's enough dirt on Bachmann to warrant an official probe, the OCE will refer her case to the House Ethics Committee, much in the same way it did in the cases of New York Democrat Charlie Rangel and Georgia Republican Nathan Deal.
Former Bachmann staffers confirmed the OCE's investigation, which has so far focused on improper transfers of funds to the Bachmann presidential campaign's national political director, Guy Short, as well as Bachmann's one-time Iowa campaign chairman, State Senator Kent Sorenson. Though Bachmann's campaign counsel, William McGinley, has confirmed the OCE's investigation, he added,
There are no allegations that the Congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing. 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.
An Ethics Committee probe would likely put the rotten cherry on top of Bachmann's short-lived, and ultimately ignominious political career, In August of 2011, Bachman was profiled in the New Yorker as rising persona in a fractured, directionless GOP. Maybe she wouldn't stick around long in the Republican primary, but she had galvanized Tea Party Republicans and seemed to be carving out a spot for herself in national politics.
Bachmann's presidential campaign, however, soon fell off the tracks, tumbled, and exploded. Her New Hampshire staffers quit en masse in October 2011, publicly criticizing the Bachmann campaign as "rude, unprofessional, dishonest and at times cruel." She bumbled through the primary, garnering less than 10 percent of the vote in her own county, and soon emerged on the other side of her campaign a lusterless congresswoman with only a small list of half-crazed, bigoted talking points, conspiracy theories, and mounting legal troubles from her allegedly unpaid staffers.
Whatever political clout Bachmann mustered in the early goings of her campaign has dissipated entirely. Now, with the possibility of a federal probe looming and legal challenges pressing in on her from every conceivable angle, Bachmann sits on career precipice. It doesn't seem likely that she'll emerge from her gauntlet of legal woes unscathed:
Bills are piling up in an Iowa court case, Heki vs. Bachmann-filed by another former Bachmann staffer, Barb Heki. That suit alleges that one-time state campaign chairman and State Senator Kent Sorenson stole from her-and then used with the candidate's knowledge-an email list of Christian home-school families in Iowa. Heki's accusation has been backed by a sworn affidavit by former campaign staffer, Eric Woolson, who had also been named in the suit though charges against him were dropped after he submitted his affidavit...
Separately, the Urbandale Police Department in Iowa has conducted its own investigation into the theft of that list; and the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee had been probing the actions of Sorenson, for allegedly taking "under the table payments" from her campaign, according to Waldron, the former Bachmann staffer who filed the initial complaint. In a written response to the Committee, Sorenson has "vehemently denied any wrongdoing as alleged." (That investigation has been put on hold until the criminal investigation is complete.) Ironically, when Sorenson defected to Ron Paul's campaign days before the Iowa caucus, Bachmann herself publically [sic] charged that the influential state senator had told her that he'd been "offered a large amount of money" to shift his allegiance.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the Federal Election Commission is busy investigating a separate complaint filed by Waldron that Bachmann's political action committee MichelePAC improperly paid the campaign's political director, Guy Short, through his fundraising company, C&M Strategies. Short helped started and direct MichelePAC, and its Treasurer, Barry Arrington, also filed the incorporation papers for C&M strategies. According to the Daily Beast,
These connections appear to have put Short in a position to pay himself, even as other presidential campaign staffers were told that there was no money for their salaries.
Michele Bachmann's political baggage, in other words, is like a five-piece luggage set that she won on The Price Is Right, packed full of feces, loaded onto a trebuchet's sling, and launched at a wind turbine that had been blowing cool air into her face.