Marcus Bachmann’s campaign reimbursements raise questions

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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As she is enduring increasing scrutiny as a presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann’s financial reports continue to raise questions.

The liberal outlet Mother Jones recently reported that she spent “$4,700 on hair and makeup in the weeks after she entered the presidential race on June 13.” That may seem humorously John Edwardsian, but other allegations — including the notion that she may have used her taxpayer-funded congressional office account to pay for a political rally — are perhaps more serious.

But while recent controversies have kept reporters busy, irregularities in Bachmann’s financial reports date back to her first bid for Congress in 2006. And interestingly, her husband Marcus Bachmann is at the center of the controversy.

According to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (see page 16 of this PDF), covering the period between November 28 and December 31 of 2006, Marcus was reimbursed $6,230 for mileage.

(Bachmann treasurer Joe Droogsma — who was also reimbursed for car insurance — was also paid $4,450 for mileage incurred during the same time period.)

Granted, $6,230 hardly seems like a shockingly large amount of money for a spouse to be reimbursed for campaign expenses. But considering that the IRS’s standard mileage rate was 44.5 cents per mile, and that the farthest opposing corners of Minnesota’s sixth district stretch about 120 miles, Marcus Bachmann would have had to have driven 14,000 miles (58 round trips) in the span of 1 month to warrant the money.

This, of course, seems physically impossible and highly unlikely (especially considering the mileage was accrued after Bachmann had already won). As such, my guess is that the mileage probably accrued throughout the campaign, but was never reported until after election day — a violation of FEC law.

This raises other questions, including: Would the money have been reported and reimbursed at all had Bachmann lost the campaign (or had the campaign ended in debt to other vendors)?

Failing to reimburse a spouse for something may seem harmless. But spouses are limited to the same contribution levels as any other citizen — and $6,230 would have certainly exceeded the legal maximum limit.

Additionally, it is unclear whether or not Michele Bachmann was a co-owner of the car — or if Bachmann & Associates might have actually owned it (which might have constituted as an illegal corporate contribution). Bachmann’s campaign and congressional offices failed to return repeated phone calls and emails requesting comment and clarification.

Matt K. Lewis