Here are the characters so far in the Bachmann “misuse of funds” scandal.
Michele. (Always at the center of attention.)
The “Bachmann presidential campaign.” (Formed to elect her to the White House. In quotes, because the story is about alleged illegal transfer of funds and it’s important to keep track of separate fundraising entities. The “Bachmann presidential campaign” ended up in debt after her White House bid washed out in January 2012.)
MichelePAC. (Another fundraising entity, separate from her presidential and congressional campaigns. Bachmann founded MichelePAC to promote the election of Bachmann-like candidates in races around the country.)
Peter Waldron. (From Michele’s perspective, the “Judas” of the story. Waldron is an evangelist politico who worked for the “Bachmann presidential campaign.” He is disgruntled, and is stirring up a lot of trouble for Michele these days.)
(Waldron began by going to the media and complaining that “the Bachmann presidential campaign” refused to pay staffers who wouldn’t sign confidentiality agreements. And now Waldron has upped the stakes with an FEC complaint–alleging that “the Bachmann presidential campaign” used campaign funds improperly.)
Guy Short. (A Bachmann fundraising consultant. Waldron says that “the Bachmann presidential campaign” took money from the MichelePAC funds to pay Short. Apparently you’re not allowed to do that: take money out of a PAC dedicated for one purpose and use it to pay staffers hired for another: to help you get elected president.)
Kent Sorenson. (An Iowa State Senator. Sorenson served as the “Bachmann presidential campaign’s” state chair in Iowa. Waldron accuses the “Bachmann presidential campaign” of concealing payments to Sorenson. Waldron alleges that Iowa Senate rules prohibited Sorenson from performing “paid work for a presidential campaign.”)
The source for all this information is a story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and that’s even more shocking than the story itself. The paper’s doing something that smells very much like journalism here. Kevin Diaz, the Strib’s Washington correspondent, is the reporter. So I guess the long-term three way love affair between Diaz, the Strib editors and Michele Bachmann is over.
Waldron is the one who’s “creating” this news story, by making all these allegations and complaints in a very high profile fashion (apparently because he thinks “the Bachmann presidential campaign” stiffed him.)
But the Strib (via regular reporting and updates) has the potential to make Waldron’s “pissed-off-edness” into a real factor affecting Bachmann’s national reputation and future. This is the second story the Strib has run on this.
What’s missing so far is “a smoking gun”–real evidence of a direct and personal decision by Michele Bachmann to misuse campaign funds. So far Waldron’s allegations are against the entities, not the person. If Waldron’s allegations are proven correct, Michele’s reputation will suffer just a little (because she will have displayed poor judgment in employing staffers who misused campaign funds and stiffed employees.)
But Michele’s reputation for integrity will suffer a lot if Waldron or the Strib or someone else turns up “a smoking gun.” A “smoking gun” would be: evidence that Michele herself knew that campaign funds were being redirected and misused to pay people who shouldn’t be paid that money.
We’ll see if Waldron can keep the story alive and in the media, via more revelations…staggered releases to reporters, each revelation more shocking than the last…
I mean–I don’t know if Waldron has those kind of revelations up his sleeve. Maybe Bachmann friends will pay him off. Or maybe the story’s going to fade into “no action media oblivion” like so many other campaign finance allegations against Bachmann over the years. But that is the way to do it, if Waldron has more evidence of Bachmann impropriety: staggered and increasingly important revelations, to keep the story in the news.
LINK: The Strib story…