House Ethics Extends Bachmann Probe

An investigation into Rep. Michele Bachmann, who sought the GOP nomination for president in 2012, has been extended by the House Ethics Committee reportedly for potential violations of House rules and campaign finance laws.

In a joint statement today, the committee's chairman, Rep. Michael Conaway, and ranking Democrat, Rep. Linda Sanchez, announced they were taking a harder look into allegations surrounding the four-term Republican congresswoman from Minnesota.

"[T]he mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," the lawmakers wrote in a statement.

Bachmann, who is being represented by William McGinley at Patton Boggs, faces multiple questions, including allegations of ethics violations stemming from her 2011 book tour, and accusations that she illegally used funds from her political action committee to pay presidential campaign staffers, in addition to a payment to an Iowa state senator who was still serving in office.

In a statement, McGinley emphasized that the committee's 45-day extension does not mean that any violation has occurred.

"[The committee's statement] does not speak to the merits of this matter, and any inference to the contrary is false," McGinley wrote in an email. "We are confident the Committee will discover, upon proper review, that the highly politicized allegations made at the OCE level were baseless and without merit."

The Office of Congressional Ethics [OCE], an independent non-partisan entity that was created in March 2009 in response to public criticism that the House Ethics Committee was failing to properly police its members, can either dismiss a case or recommend a full House Ethics Committee investigation. With Bachmann's case, it recommended June 13 that the full committee take a closer look.

The House Ethics Committee has the final say on whether a violation has taken place and what sanctions, if any, should be imposed.

The review of her case was extended by 45 days, so the latest its findings will be revealed is Sept. 11, the first week lawmakers are back in Washington after the summer recess.

Bachmann, the chair of the Tea Party Caucus, announced in May that she will not seek reelection to the House in 2014.

Ethics also announced today that it has extended investigations into Reps. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.).

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