Poor Michelle Bachmann can’t seem to catch a break lately.
Less than a week after Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart, of all people, poked holes in a Fox report on her November 5th tea party healthcare protest which utilized falsified footage to inflate the attendance, a Washington D.C. based watchdog is calling for a House probe of the Republican congresswoman from Minnesota.
“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,” states a press release on the website for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “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.”
CREW excutive director Melanie Sloan adds, “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.”
CREW also asked OCE 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.” Sloan continued, “The OCE needs to make clear that members must abide by all rules, even those they find politically inconvenient.”
Bachmann’s office, however, has so far steered clear of these criticisms.
When Democratic strategists first lobbed those charges at Bachmann last week, her spokeswoman told reporters the Minnesota Republican’s Web site merely “encourages the American people to exercise their right to petition” — hinting that the congresswoman’s advertisements were within the confines of House rules.
Her spokesperson was not immediately available Tuesday for comment.
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