Report: Bachmann faces new presidential campaign inquiry

WASHINGTON — The New York Times looks at a new inquiry from the Department of Justice into Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, this time trying to determine if the campaign coordinated activities with a super PAC:

In a complaint to the F.E.C. in February, Peter Waldron, a Florida Republican operative hired to enlist evangelical Iowa pastors, described overhearing the president of the super PAC ask Brett O’Donnell, a senior campaign adviser, about radio and TV stations.

In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Waldron said Mr. O’Donnell had replied, “I’ll call you tomorrow.”

Mr. Waldron, who calls himself a whistle-blower, also disclosed an e-mail from [Marcus] Bachmann describing a phone call Mr. Bachmann made to a donor asking for $7,000. In the e-mail, Mr. Bachmann wrote that the donor had agreed to give the money through the super PAC. He concluded: “Praise the Lord!! Thank you Peter for your servant leadership.”

The super PAC, the National Fiscal Conservative PAC, reported the $7,000 donation from the donor, August A. Busch III, in December 2011, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Bill Hemrick, the president of the super PAC, said in an interview that he had advised Mr. Bachmann to call Mr. Busch to ask for the donation. He did so, he said, after Mr. Waldron called him first to ask for the money for use by the campaign.

Campaigns are barred from coordinating ad strategy with super PACs, and according to a campaign finance expert quoted in the Times, campaign staff cannot solicit donations for super PACs worth more than $5,000. The DOJ subpoenaed records from the super PAC in question last week.

Waldron’s FEC complaint has spawned a handful of legal and ethical investigations into Bachmann’s presidential campaign. The House Ethics Committee is expected to decide next week if it will investigate whether Bachmann herself broke any ethics rules.

A Bachmann campaign lawyer did not immediately return an email asking for comment.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.

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