Ex-Aide: Michele Bachmann's Iowa Campaign Staffers Still Waiting for Paychecks
The Minnesota congresswoman rose to the top and then sank to the bottom of the race of the GOP presidential nomination in Iowa.
An evangelical organizer credited with helping Minnesota's Sixth Congressional District Congresswoman Michele Bachmann win the 2011 Ames Straw Poll is now accusing her of not paying members of her Iowa ground team.
Ex-aide Peter Waldron said he and several other staffers are still owed paychecks and suggested the former GOP presidential candidate's senior team might be withholding the money because the staffers cooperated in a legal investigation.
“I’m disappointed,” Waldron told the Washington Post. “Working with her, I know her to be a person of good faith. However, I also know that she is surrounded by what the Bible says is men of lesser sorts.”
Eric Woolson, Bachmann’s Iowa campaign communications chairman, said people were paid in full and they didn't expect to be paid for January 2011, which is the month Bachmann dropped out of the race, according to the Post.
“I can tell you from firsthand experience that there is absolutely no connection between the investigation that Peter referenced and payment to staff,” Woolson said. “I personally provided more information to the local investigator than anyone and I was paid by the campaign with full knowledge that I had done so.”
The Straw Poll win propelled Bachmann to the front of the pack of GOP presidential candidates for a spell, although her campaign faltered amidst a series of flubs and she finished a distant sixth place in the Iowa Caucus on Jan. 3.
When Bachmann dropped her bid for president on Jan. 4, she was $1 million in the red. The debt was mostly repaid by the end of the year with money from her congressional re-election campaign. But, former staffers from her Iowa team apparently didn't make the cut when it came to balancing the books.
In dispute appears to be the time after the Iowa Caucus.
Waldron and an unspecified number of other staffers still haven't been paid about $5,000 for work in January 2012, including closing down the campaign office after the campaign ended, he has told multiple news outlets. They were led to believe they would and they filed invoices, he said.
Waldron, who lead Bachmann's outreach to Christian voters, lays the blame at the feet of Bachmann's finance chief James Pollack.
Pollack disputes the claims.
“It should be noted the presidential campaign suspended all activity on Jan. 4, 2011, so any claims for compensation through the month of January 2011 are erroneous,” Pollack said, according to The Hill, adding that one Iowa consulting firm is still owed $3,000.
The Waldron claim is just the latest development in a troubled Iowa Bachmann operation.
A Johnston woman who once worked for former GOP presidential candidate filed a theft report with the Urbandale Police Department claiming an Iowa state senator and former chairman of Bachmann's Iowa campaign stole a private email list of Christian homeschoolers from the campaign aide.
According to an Urbandale police report filed Sept. 11, Barb Heki told officers that sometime between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10, 2011, a private email list was stolen from her office at Bachmann's Iowa campaign office in Urbandale.
The police report lists the suspect as a 40-year-old man from Milo who is a state senator, but does not give the legislator's name. Urbandale Police Spokesman Randy Peterson says the department does not release suspect names.
The state senator from Warren County is Kent Sorenson, 40, of Milo.
Waldron said the staffers who were owed money received a non-disclosure form requiring them to speak with Bachmann’s attorneys before consulting with law enforcement investigators or other lawyers about the campaign.
Waldron suspects the payments might have been suspended because they cooperated with a criminal investigation over a stolen voter list.
“Michele Bachmann and her senior staff are involved in a lawsuit in Polk County, Iowa, and there’s a criminal investigation under way,” he said. “Many of our staff are involved in either depositions or interviews with the police.
“It’s probably not a coincidence that all the people who have not been paid are the very people who have either given depositions, given affidavits or have been interviewed extensively by the police,” he said.
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