Rep. Michele Bachmann said she was surprised to hear that her entire New Hampshire campaign staff had quit en masse today, even though they “had not been paid for a month,” one of the departing staffers told ABC News.
Hours after initial reports of the mass exodus, Bachmann told Iowa Radio this afternoon that she was unaware that her staff had quit and said the reports were not true.
“That is a shocking story to me,” the Minnesota congresswoman said. “I don’t know where that came from. We have called staff in New Hampshire to find out where that came from and the staff have said that isn’t true, so I don’t know if this is just a bad story that’s being fed by a different candidate or campaign. I have no idea where this came from, but we’ve made calls and it’s certainly not true.”
But a staffer confirmed to ABC News that they had indeed quit.
All of the paid staff has already been offered jobs at competing campaigns, the staffer said.
One staffer, Southern New Hampshire Field Director Caroline Gigler, has already accepted a new job with Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign, according to a report in the National Journal.
As first reported by ABC affiliate WMUR, the outgoing staff include: Gigler, Nicole Yurek, Tom Lukacz, Director of Operations Matt LeDuc and longtime Bachmann friend radio-host Jeff Chidester.
The departures are the latest in a string of high-profile exits from the campaign and do not bode well for a candidate who spent more money than she raised in the most recent quarter, according to FEC filings released last week.
Among those to leave so far were campaign manager Ed Rollins, deputy manager David Polyansky and pollster Ed Goeas. Soon after those departures, longtime adviser Andy Parish left the campaign to return to work in Bachmann’s Washington congressional office, and spokesman Doug Sachtleben quit.
In addition to a failure to pay staff salaries, some departing staffers had told the media that they were leaving because they were unconvinced that Bachmann was making a serious play to win New Hampshire.
When Rollins was still on board, much of the tension inside the camp concerned whether Bachmann should make a push only in Iowa, as former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee did in 2008, or to make a play for other early primary states like New Hampshire.
Bachmann last week, in an interview with the New York Times, said she would be focusing her efforts on Iowa.
Bachmann visited New Hampshire four times in 2011. She has made trips to Iowa nearly 20 times this year.
Late in the day, the Bachmann national campaign sent out a press release saying the campaign had not received word of of the New Hampshire departures, but confirming its focus would be on Iowa.
“We have a great team in New Hampshire and we have not been notified that anyone is leaving the campaign. We look forward to spending more time in the Granite State between now and the primary, but our campaign has emphasized that our main focus is the first-in-the-nation caucus state of Iowa and we are continuing to build efforts there. While she will campaign in other states, Michele will spend the majority of her time in Iowa, doing what she does better than all the other candidates – retail politics – leading up to the all important caucuses,” read the release.