Just when you thought it was safe to forget Michele Bachmann.
The Minnesota Republican and Tea Party icon announced in the middle of last year that she would not run for re-election in 2014. But recently, her official political action committee, MichelePAC, began actively soliciting money again, after staying quiet for the better part of a year, according to Minnesota Public Radio. And in a recent email to potential donors, MichelePAC (which is actually short for Many Individual Conservatives Helping Elect Leaders Everywhere Political Action Committee) billed itself as an “invaluable resource” that keeps Bachmann from “draining resources” from her own re-election. The re-election she’s not running for.
“MichelePAC is a national organization dedicated to turning the the [sic] Senate red and keeping majorities in the House,” the email said, according to a screen shot taken by Minnesota Public Radio. “It’s an invaluable resource that allows Michele to continue her campaign without draining resources from her own reelection campaign.”
MichelePAC’s website also appears to allude to current Bachmann campaign efforts. On its “about” page, the group describes how it “successfully swept Nancy Pelosi out of power and into the minority in 2010.” It then refers to the 2012 election, which “brought with it an emboldened President Obama who stands ready to implement Obamacare, strip our second amendment rights, and spend, spend, spend!” Now, the group says, its goal is “to maintain the constitutional conservative majority in the house, elect conservatives to the Senate until they have the majority, and a restoration of American values.”
“Because MichelePAC is not connected in any way to Bachmann for Congress, it can provide this crucial financial support without draining the resources for Michele to win her own election,” the page states. “Your immediate and generous support is the best way to ensure Congress will stop Obama in his tracks, and preserve a free America for generations to come.”
Setting aside the issue of Bachmann’s existent-or-not re-election campaign, MichelePAC’s past spending habits might also give potential donors pause. As Minnesota Public Radio reported Monday, the group raised a little over $250,000 in 2013. Its largest budget item? Fundraising costs. Its second largest budget item? Legal bills. Only 5 percent of the money MichelePAC raised last year ended up going to campaigns. And that’s just the lowest in a downward-trending series of low numbers. In 2010, MichelePAC spent just 26 percent of its receipts on campaign and political committees. In 2012, it spent just 14 percent.
Last year, MichelePAC was at the center of ethics and campaign finance issues that swirled around Bachmann. In January 2013, a former top adviser to Bachmann’s 2012 presidential run filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission, alleging campaign finance violations related to both the failed campaign and MichelePAC. In October, a special investigator in Iowa found that a state senator had violated legislative ethics rules when he accepted money from both MichelePAC and Bachmann’s presidential campaign. The same state senator has attracted the attention of the FBI.
Bachmann’s office and MichelePAC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from TPM.