The Bachmann Letters

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 10 2011 4:52 PM

The Bachmann Letters

Don't miss Sam Stein et al's investigation of Michele Bachmann's pre-campaign communications with federal agencies. The short version: Like Ron Paul, she's been sounding the trumpet about the evil of government while trying her very best to bring government aid to her district. The EPA stuff is just plain ugly:

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

In February 2007, well before Obama was in office, Bachmann co-signed a letter to the EPA urging its officials to help fund technical assistance programs and rural water initiatives "in small communities across Minnesota." The authors of the letter, which included nearly the entire Minnesota congressional delegation at the time, noted that FY 2006 funding for the National Rural Water Association had been set at $11 million.
"We need to continue these efforts in 2007," they wrote.
In other communications with the EPA, Bachmann was far colder to agency policy, criticizing spring 2009 federal management standards for coal combustion byproducts and 2008 National Ambient Air Quality standards. But in other instances, Bachmann turned to the EPA for constituent-related problems. In a Feb. 2, 2010, letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, she asked the agency to support a $270,806 grant application (filed with the EPA's Clean Diesel Grant Program) that would help a St. Cloud bus company replace two older motor coach vehicles.
"Voigt's Bus Service, with Community Transportation, Incorporated, is committed to bringing long-term benefits to the environment and the economy and they wish to accomplish this through the Clean Diesel Grant Program," she wrote.
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Not a big deal until you realize that Bachmann's current position is that the EPA should be abolished. The thing about Bachmann's pitch, which I've now seen three versions of in Iowa, is that it's laced with stories about how she acted behind closed doors. She led the fight against TARP, and gave Paulson what-for! She led the fight against health care reform! She likes to tell a new story about a confrontation in the White House when she asked President Obama "what's your plan to save Medicare?" and he responded "mumble, mumble, mumble, Obamacare." Behind other closed doors, she was working the system like anyone else.

The constant refrain on Bachmann is that "it never hurts her to be attacked by the liberal media." Mostly true! A social conservative isn't going to get spooked because Bachmann liked Francis Schaeffer's videos. This is different.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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