More than a year since their candidate dropped out of the Republican primary for the 2012 election, staffers from the campaign to elect Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) president say they are still waiting to get paid.
According to an article by Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon.com, Bachmann's former national field coordinator, Peter Waldron claims that former employees of the campaign are being denied payment because they refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement that would bar them from discussing any "unethical, immoral, or criminal activity" they witnessed while working for the Minnesota representative.
Waldron went public with the claims on Thursday night in a blog post at ChristianNewsWire.com that said, in part, "Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN), former presidential candidate and a leader of the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives in Washington, has yet to pay some of her Iowa presidential campaign staff after one year and in spite of the fact that over $2,000,000 sits in bank accounts at her disposal."
He continued, "I feel a moral obligation to see that my Christian brothers and sisters are paid for worked performed in good faith," and added, "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."
The wages in question add up to a mere $5,000, which Waldron said is a pittance compared to the millions in campaign cash still sitting in the Bachmann coffers. He claimed in the post that Bachmann's finance chairman James Pollack "broke every promise made to me to pay the staff."
Waldron has appealed to Marcus Bachmann, Rep. Bachmann's husband, who runs a controversial "ex-gay" ministry that practices so-called "reparative therapy," a practice that has been outlawed in California as dangerous to young people. The former field manager has also attempted to solicit help from Rep. Bachmann's chief of staff, Robert Boland.
Stymied at every turn, he felt he had no choice but to go public.
Waldron said that the staffers' refusal to sign the non-disclosure agreement stems from a dispute over a mailing list that the campaign allegedly used without permission. A volunteer for the campaign had a mailing list of Christian home-schooling families in Iowa on her computer. The Bachmann campaign solicited the families on the mailing list for support via email, a breach of federal election laws.
The home-schooling group is suing the campaign for using the list. Waldron told Salon that a criminal investigation is also pending, and that he has spoken to police "several times" in connection with the matter.
“They wanted us to have no further conversation [with police] without first notifying Michelle’s attorneys, and we just refused,” he said. “We’ve been lied to at every turn.”
Bachmann's office released a statement calling Waldron's claims "false and inaccurate."
Waldron, who was arrested in 2006 in Uganda on terrorism charges, has been a Republican operative since the 1980's. Former associates have called him "quite a vivid storyteller" and an opportunist.
To outsiders, the Bachmann campaign unfolded as an ongoing comedy of errors. At campaign events, she threw out a slew of gaffes and misstatements, including confusing actor John Wayne with serial killer John Wayne Gacy, and telling a story about meeting a woman who insisted that HPV vaccine made her daughter mentally retarded, a claim that medical experts dismissed out-of-hand as highly unlikely, if not impossible.
In October, 2011, Bachmann's entire New Hampshire office quit en masse over non-payment of wages. Former campaign manager Ed Rollins was only on board for a matter of weeks before he jumped ship and later said that Bachmann "never passed muster" to become "a credible candidate." He disparaged her inability to stay on message or come up with substantive policy prescriptions.
"She's still saying the same things she said in the first the debate," he said in late 2011. "There's no substance. She says, 'I'm going to repeal Obamacare.' But she's been saying that from Day 1. I told her, 'That's your tea party speech, now you have to say what you're going to do next.'"
Bachmann was re-elected to her House seat in November, and has been re-appointed to the House Intelligence Committee, which one intelligence analyst called "an embarrassment" to the country.