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Roll Call: Bachmann used taxpayer money for 2009 rally

Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, says Minnesota Rep.

Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., newspaper, says Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and other representatives used taxpayer money to help put on a 2009 rally for Tea Party activists in the nation’s Capitol.

Says the story:

According to House expense reports, Bachmann and three conservative GOP colleagues — Reps. Tom Price (Ga.), Steve King (Iowa) and Todd Akin (Mo.) — each paid $3,407.50 that day, a total of $13,630, to a sound and stage company called National Events, apparently for the sound system used at the rally.

The money came from the Members’ taxpayer-funded office accounts, despite House rules prohibiting the use of these funds for political activities. Bachmann’s office insists the expense was a proper use of official funds.

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Bachmann billed the event as a “press conference,” which can be funded from official accounts. But no questions were taken from the press and, unlike most press conferences, it opened with a prayer, the national anthem and a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.

 And the story says Bachmann has occasionally spent money out of her office account for things closely tied to her political activities:

But as with the rally, it is not clear whether she has violated any rules.

For instance, in June 2010, Bachmann added to her Congressional payroll a “senior advisor” named Guy Short, whose last Congressional job had been chief of staff to ex-Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), who lost her re-election bid in 2008.

According to Congressional pay records, Bachmann paid Short $5,000 for the month.

On June 3, 2010, Short established C&M Strategies in Colorado. Records on file with the Colorado secretary of state list Short as the “registered agent” of the firm; the incorporator was Colorado certified public accountant Barry Arrington.

In July, Short dropped off Bachmann’s payroll, but Bachmann’s campaign began paying C&M Strategies for fundraising consulting services.

Bachmann’s office said she properly uses the Congressional account:

“Congresswoman Bachmann listens to the people who sent her to the House, works for reform on their behalf, and knows that they share her profound concern with Washington’s taxing, spending, regulating and bailouts. She also communicates back to them and communications is a key responsibility of her Congressional office. The expenditures you’ve highlighted were all consistent with the official responsibilities of the Congresswoman and her staff on behalf of the people of Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District,” Bachmann spokesman Doug Sachtleben said.