Bachmann still haunted by Iowa presidential campaign

11:40 PM, Aug 1, 2012   |    comments
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Rep. Michele Bachmann campaigns in Iowas 2011

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann still has campaign debts and legal issues stemming from her failed presidential run.

The 6th District Republican moved on to her reelection campaign months ago, but her most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission indicates the Bachmann for President campaign still owes $935,000 to vendors.

Her congressional campaign is raising money at a healthy pace, with $1 million in donations reported in July alone.  Federal law allows candidates in Bachmann's situation to move money from their congressional campaigns to their presidential campaigns to pay off debt.

"Since she suspended her presidential campaign, she's allowed to make a transfer of money from her congressional campaign to her presidential campaign," David Schultz, an elections finance expert who teaches at Hamline University in St. Paul, told KARE.

"But almost no candidate is going to do that in the middle of a Congressional campaign," Schultz added.

"Maybe she'll do it afterwards, but she's legally not required because her presidential campaign is suspended. So long as the creditors are willing to work with her she could go years without paying that back."

Among those awaiting payments is the owner of Turf Cars, the Council Bluffs company that leased golf carts to Bachmann's campaign to use at the Iowa Straw Poll in Ames last August.  Turf Cars brought a small claims action against Bachmann for President in Pottawattomie County.

Mailing List Lawsuit

A more serious legal matter remains unresolved.

One of Bachmann's former Iowa campaign staff members, Barbara Heki, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the third-term congresswoman and several presidential campaign aides.

Heki's role in the campaign was to reach out to Christian home school teachers in Iowa, and she had plenty of contacts because of her leadership role in the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, or NICHE.

In her suit, filed in Polk County, Heki alleges that State Senator Kent Sorenson, Bachmann's Iowa campaign chairman, stole the NICHE mailing list from her private computer in her office at Bachmann's campaign headquarters in Urbandale.

Heki's petition goes on to say that she and her husband, Richard Heki, lost their positions on the NICHE board after the Bachmann campaign obtained the mailing list.  Heki alleges that campaign insiders created the false impression she had voluntarily turned over the mailing list.

Muslim Brotherhood flap

The suit comes two weeks after Bachmann took heat on Capitol Hill from Republican leaders for alleging the State Department is infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic organization active in the Arab world.

Bachmann's letters to fellow members of Congress cited a third-party report claiming that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department has ties to Muslim Brotherhood.

Senator John McCain of Arizona and House Speaker John Boehner both denounced the allegations and defended Abedin's loyalty to the U.S.

Schultz said that Bachmann's Democratic opponent, hotel developer Jim Graves, will likely use the controversies against Bachmann on the campaign trail. And Graves already wrote an op-ed piece in the Huffington Post calling out Bachmann for the latest flap.

But Schultz doesn't believe those dust-ups will make her vulnerable in the Sixth District race.

"She has a very solid Republican district that seems very supportive of a lot of her views. In fact, if anything, I would argue that the Muslim Brotherhood issue will probably help her with her base."

He said the 2012 redistricting made the 6th District, which wraps around the Twin Cities northern suburbs and stretches to St. Cloud, even more Republican-leaning than it was the first three times Bachmann was elected.

(Copyright 2012 KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewriten or redistributed.)

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