An Ethics Investigation for Michele Bachmann?


CREW, the Washington watchdog group, has a new target: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), the conservative firebrand who was the godmother for the November 5 Tea Party-ish protest at the Capitol against the emerging health care reform bill. It seems she may have violated House rules by using her taxpayer-funded congressional website to promote a political event and by holding a rally without a permit. CREW explains in a press release:

CREW contends that Rep. Bachmann misused her official congressional website by urging people to come to the Capitol to protest the legislation despite House rules restricting members from using their websites to engage in “grassroots lobbying or solicit support for a Member’s position.” Rep. Bachmann’s website urged people to come to the Capitol rally “and tell their Representatives to vote no” on the health care reform bill.

“Taxpayers fund members’ websites and because of that those sites may not be used to organize a public rally for or against any particular legislation,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director.

CREW also asked [the Office of Congressional Ethics] to determine if Rep. Bachmann and other members violated House rules by failing to acquire a permit for the Nov. 5 rally and by falsely calling the event a “press conference,” though no questions were asked by the media. Politico quoted from a Republican Study Committee email directing staff members to “please make sure your boss does not term this event a rally.” A Capitol Police spokeswoman confirmed the lawmakers had no permit for a demonstration. In a TV interview, however, Rep. Bachmann urged opponents of the bill “to come to Washington, D.C. by the car load.”

“Whoever heard of a press conference without questions?” asked Sloan. “Calling a rally a press conference to circumvent congressional rules is like calling a Hummer a Prius to meet fuel efficiency standards.”

Bachmann will, no doubt, enjoy being targeted in this fashion. Isn’t it more proof anti-Americanism runs amok in the nation’s capital?

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  • David Corn

    David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief and an on-air analyst for MSNBC. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump. He is the author of three New York Times bestsellers, Showdown, Hubris (with Isikoff), and The Lies of George W. Bush, as well as the e-book, 47 Percent: Uncovering the Romney Video that Rocked the 2012 Election. For more of his stories, click here. He's also on Twitter and Facebook.