WASHINGTON -- Rep. Michele Bachmann's got some serious legal bills.
In the past three months, her presidential, congressional and leadership campaign committees spent more than $185,000 on Washington lawyers -- more than six times what they spent during an average quarter last year.
The spike in legal fees came as the Minnesota Republican grappled with campaign finance investigations by the Federal Election Commission, the Office of Congressional Ethics and others.
Campaign finance reports filed Monday show her congressional committee paid $120,000 to Washington law firm Patton Boggs between May 30 and June 26. Her presidential committee paid the same firm $55,000 during the period. A lawyer at the firm, William McGinley, has been representing both committees in the probes.
Bachmann's leadership committee, MICHELE PAC, paid $11,300 to the Washington firm of Holland and Knight, where attorney Chris DeLacy has been representing the leadership committee and Guy Short, the national political director for Bachmann's presidential campaign.
The investigations started after former campaign staffer Peter Waldron alleged in a complaint to the FEC in January that Bachmann's presidential campaign improperly used MICHELE PAC to pay the campaign's Iowa chairman and to hide payments to Short, a Colorado political consultant, for presidential campaign work. The probes intensified in April when a former chief of staff, Andy Parrish, corroborated the accusations and alleged in an affidavit that Bachmann personally knew about the payments to the Iowa chairman.
DeLacy, the lawyer for Short and MICHELE PAC, asserted Tuesday that his clients have been falsely accused by disgruntled former Bachmann staffers.
"My clients have done nothing wrong, and it is unfortunate the system can sometimes be manipulated in a way that creates the appearance of wrongdoing, when in fact nothing illegal or inappropriate has actually taken place," DeLacy said. "I am confident these dubious allegations will be carefully examined and then rejected by any impartial finder of fact."
A spokesman for Bachmann declined to comment. McGinley, the lawyer representing her other committees, did not respond to a message seeking comment. He has previously denied the former staffers' allegations.
There is no indication the legal bills will decline anytime soon. The FEC investigation could last years. Congressional ethics investigators have completed their initial investigation, but the full House Committee on Ethics soon could decide whether the case merits further review. And if the FBI has been poking around, as MinnPost has reported, a more serious criminal probe could ensue.
Aside from legal fees, the other large expenses on the campaign finance reports filed this week were payments on debt left over from her presidential campaign. Bachmann's congressional committee paid the presidential campaign committee some $140,000. That brings the campaign debt to $30,673, down from more than $1 million after her presidential bid failed.
Bachmann's fundraising pace for her congressional committee continued unabated, despite the controversies, the finance reports show. The committee raised $815,000 last quarter from individual contributors. Most of that -- $614,000 -- came from donors across the country giving less than $200 each.
An analysis of larger, itemized contributions indicates that the giving tapered off considerably after Bachmann announced May 29 that she would not seek re-election. The average weekly haul dropped from $21,000 to $6,000 after the announcement.
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