The Pathetic Shame at the Center of the Michele Bachmann Scandal

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 18 2013 2:17 PM

The Pathetic Shame at the Center of the Michele Bachmann Scandal

Kevin Diaz has fresh details on the Michele Bachmann finance scandal, a story that's getting buried by far less irrelevant news this week. It's still an interesting story, because it suggests that a strange moment toward the end of the Bachmann campaign was an acrobatic exercise in projection. Diaz's new story tells of how top Bachmann staffers are now ready to talk about the campaign misusing funds.

Peter Waldron, a Florida pastor, claims that the campaign hid payments to Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson, in violation of Iowa Senate ethics rules that bar members from receiving pay from presidential campaigns.
Until now, [former Bachmann Chief of Staff Andy] Parrish has been identified by the committee only as “Witness A,” [attorney John] Gilmore said.
“The time has come to confirm that ‘Witness A’ is Andy Parrish, and he’ll be providing an affidavit with supporting material that completely supports the representations previously made by Peter Waldron,” Gilmore said.
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If Sorenson's name rings a bell, it's because he bolted the Bachmann campaign at the end of December 2011, showing up at a rally for Ron Paul, who nearly won the caucuses. At the time, Bachmann attacked Sorenson on the grounds that -- yes -- Paul must have bought him off! I was gawking from the sidelines when Bachmann went live on CNN and claimed that Paul's team had offered Sorenson "big money" to switch sides. "Kent said to me yesterday that ‘everyone sells out in Iowa, why shouldn’t I,'" Bachmann told a local paper. Sorenson denied it, and when I found him at Paul's election night party, the state senator refused to do an interview.

Fifteen months later, the finance records from Paul's campaign have revealed no donation to Sorenson. Was the whole frenzy just a Bachmann CYA for the national press, a completely misleading diversion?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.