U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., dropped out of the presidential race in January 2012, but the congresswoman from Minnesota is withholding payment to staff members, according to her former national field coordinator, Dr. Peter Waldron, who alleges that the congresswoman has refused to pay five former Iowa straw poll workers more than a year after she quit the race for the Republican nomination.
Despite having more than $2 million stored away in her campaign war chest, Waldron claims Bachmann will not cough up the $5,000 owed to the staffers unless they sign a non-disclosure agreement barring them from discussing any “criminal, moral and/or unethical behavior witnessed during Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign in Iowa,” according to a press release posted on Christian Newswire on Thursday night.
Waldron, who was a consultant in charge of outreach to Christian voters, also said Bachmann for President Campaign Finance Chairman James Pollack has insisted that the unpaid staffers refrain from discussing the predicament with law enforcement or lawyers without first notifying Bachmann’s attorneys.
"It is sobering to think that a Christian member of Congress would betray her testimony to the Lord and the public by withholding earned wages from deserving staff," Waldron said, noting that all of the Iowa staff are married and have children.
Waldron alleges he has been communicating with Pollack about the debt for a year, to no avail. He claims he has appealed to the congresswoman’s husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, as well as Bachmann’s congressional Chief of Staff, Robert Boland.
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Bachmann for Congress reported it had $2,170,422 cash on hand on Nov. 26, according to the Federal Election Commission. MICHELE PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the congresswoman, reported $72,397.
A spokesperson from Bachmann’s congressional office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The non-disclosure agreement stems from the campaign’s alleged misuse of an e-mail list. Campaign officials were accused of receiving access, without permission, to a database of parents who homeschool their children in Iowa -- an influential political constituency in the state. The Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators accused the campaign of stealing the list from a volunteer’s laptop and then sending two unsolicited e-mail blasts.
The home-schooling group filed a lawsuit against the campaign in July. Barb Heki, Bachmann’s former homeschool coalition director, told the Iowa Republican that she had “first-hand witnesses” who saw another staffer confess to stealing the email database.
Pollack could not immediately be reached by phone or email. In an interview with The Hill, he disputed the claims, insisting that Waldron and the other staffers had no basis for requesting compensation for work done after Bachmann dropped out of the presidential race in early January 2012.
This is far from the first report of mismanagement within the Bachmann campaign. In October 2011 the campaign’s entire New Hampshire team quit en masse, reporting a severe lack of communication -- and in some cases “rude, unprofessional, dishonest and at times cruel” treatment –- from national campaign staffers. Payment disputes were also one of the complaints reported by the New Hampshire staff.