This is an update to my January 11th piece regarding Representative Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) refusal to pay $5,000 in wages owed to five members of her Iowa campaign staff. The staff worked for her during her short-lived bid for the GOP nomination in the 2012 presidential election. To read my first piece and get the back story, click here.
In summary, the Iowa staff reportedly are not being paid because they have refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that “prohibits any discussion of any criminal, moral, and/or unethical behavior witnessed during Mrs. Bachmann’s campaign in Iowa,” reports Dr. Peter Waldron, her former President National Field Coordinator. Dr. Waldron continued by saying, “It is sobering to think that a Christian member of Congress would betray her testimony to the Lord and the public by withholding earned wages from deserving staff.”
Indeed. All of the staff members are married with children. (Source: ChristianNewsWire)
It’s not from lack of money. Bachmann has over $2 million left in her campaign account, reports Waldron, but she still refuses to fork over the paltry $5,000 owed to the staffers. Furthermore, as per her own personal financial disclosure, Bachmann has a net worth between $1,300,000 and $2,800,000.
According to Waldron, the NDA and non-payment issue stems from an illegally obtained email list. This claim was reported by ABCNews in December 2011. Bachmann currently is a defendant in a Polk County, Iowa lawsuit, where Urbandale, Iowa police are investigating the alleged theft of the email list.
A few days after I wrote my piece, there was an update of sorts on the issue of the five Iowa staffers. In an email to Salon, James Pollack, Bachmann’s campaign finance chair, calls Waldron’s accusations “false and inaccurate.” His statement:
“Mr Waldren’s presentation of the facts and related allegations are false and inaccurate. Why Mr Waldren would be motivated to attempt to disparage the Congresswoman, the campaign, or fellow campaign members I can’t explain.
All Bachmann campaign debt is accurately reflected in the FEC filings of Bachmann for President. As of today, there is but one Iowa consulting firm having only their last invoice outstanding for $3000. We have been in communication and anticipate bringing resolution to this invoice shortly. There are two Iowa consultants who recently submitted invoices to us, over eleven months after the campaign concluded, each of which are significantly under a $1000 dollars. We are in the process of resolving these as well. It should be noted the Presidential Campaign suspended all activity on January 4th, 2012, so any claims for compensation thru (sic) the month of January 2012 are erroneous.
Mrs. Bachmann has paid off in excess of 90% of her Presidential Campaign debt, and we look forward to accurately resolving any residual outstanding campaign debt in the very near future.” (Source: Salon)
Well, the staff are fed up and Peter Waldron is talking.
In a phone interview with BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski, Dr. Waldron described an “unnatural relationship” between Michele Bachmann and Brett O’Donnell, her debate coach. Waldron told BuzzFeed that the relationship was “unnatural” and “Rasputin-like.” He said that O’Donnell had an “unusual power over Mrs. Bachmann.”
“He prohibited her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, from sleeping in the same room with wife while on the campaign trail,” Waldron said in an email to BuzzFeed. Waldron also claims that O’Donnell “wrote most of the words that came out of her mouth, he wrote all of her speeches.”
Seriously? Their relationship may have not been so unnatural at all. I never dreamed that someone could come up with dumber stuff than she herself comes up with. As for not being allowed to sleep with Marcus, she was probably relieved about that.
Waldron said that many staffers were grateful that Bachmann didn’t win the nomination because of the “influence that Brett had over her.” Staff felt that she spent “too much time alone” with O’Donnell and that the awkward pair was caught holding hands to “pray apart from others’” on numerous occasions.
He even said that Bachmann appeared to be afraid of O’Donnell at times.
“Once she asked me to ride on the bus with her to pray. Brett’s objection was so intense that for the good of the order, I followed the bus in my personal vehicle,” said Waldron. “On one occasion, she whispered to me, ‘Peter, don’t get off the bus no matter who tells you to get off.’ Another time, her personal assistant told me, ‘Peter, Michele does not want to you leave. Stay on the bus. Please pray for us.”
Waldron feels that Bachmann still hasn’t recovered from her time with O’Donnell and that she was “mesmerized.” I have no doubt. After all of these years with Marcus, a rock would probably mesmerize Bachmann.
“Brett held her captive day after day, speech after speech, etc. in the back of the bus during the 99-county tour. By the end, she was broken emotionally, mentally, and slept in her private cabin in the back of the bus. I do not know if she has ever recovered,” Waldron said.
Of course, O’Donnall denied all allegations in an email to BuzzFeed. But honestly, would someone really admit to having an “unusual relationship” with Michele Bachmann?
“Your source for your outrageous claim is a disgruntled campaign employee who has little knowledge of reality,” O’Donnell said his email to BuzzFeed. Why is this news now anyway?”, he asked. “The story is completely false.”
James Pollack said in an email response to BuzzFeed regarding Waldron’s allegations:
“Mr. Waldron’s accusatory inferences regarding the Congresswoman are both inaccurate and meritless. His outrageous embellishments of the reality of what transpired are not deserving of further comment. Further defamations by Mr. Waldron will be dealt with accordingly.”
However, the official statement released on October 23, 2011 by Bachmann’s entire New Hampshire team implies concerns that seem to support Dr. Waldron’s claims. The New Hampshire team quit en masse for various reasons that included pay, but mostly seemed to be largely driven by how they were treated by the national team. After much “soul-searching”, the team realized that they “collectively felt loyalty to the candidate, they no longer have faith in the national team. They further elaborated:
“During Congresswoman Bachmann’s recent trip to New Hampshire, several incidents happened that concerned some members of Team-NH. Those incidents will remain private, but they were serious enough for some members to depart the campaign.”
The New Hampshire team was eventually paid in full, unlike the Iowa staff, but on September 11, 2011, they were asked to “go off payroll” until the middle of October “due to financial concerns within the campaign.” The team said that the national team made statements regarding their employment status that were “dishonest and belittling.” (Source: Official statement via Scribd)
What??? Again, copied and pasted from above: Bachmann has over $2 million left in her campaign account, reports Waldron, but still refuses to fork over the paltry $5,000 owed to the staffers. Furthermore, as per her own personal financial disclosure, Bachmann has a net worth between $1,300,000 and $2,800,000.
Apparently the New Hampshire staff members, who at first were willing to continue working for this ridiculous woman, were treated as second class citizens by the national team. The national team “was rude,unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel.” (Source: Official statement via Scribd)
According to the New Hampshire team, the national team was even dismissive of New Hampshire citizens.
But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporter. (Source: Official statement via Scribd)
At the end of the official statement, the New Hampshire team remained delusional, but their entire statement lines up nearly exactly with Dr. Waldron’s accusations. Near the end of their statement, they said:
It saddens this team to see a dedicated patriot – a person so desperately needed in the White House – sequestered behind a wall of pretense, guarded by political operatives consumed by their own egos. (Source: Official statement via Scribd)
Hmmm…that completely clicks with Waldron’s O’Donnell story, doesn’t it? And as a side note, I’m disturbed to think that there are people out there who genuinely believe that Michele Bachmann was “desperately needed” in the White House. Very scary thought.
I’ll stay on top of this and will update as more details emerge.
I am an unapologetic member of the Christian Left, and have spent a lot of time working with “the least of these” and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. I’m passionate about their struggles. To stay on top of topics I discuss, subscribe to my public updates on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me via LinkedIn. I also have a grossly neglected blog. Find me somewhere and let’s discuss stuff.