A former top aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., on Monday signed an affidavit that says Bachmann was aware of payments being made to an Iowa state senator from her presidential campaign. But the aide, high-profile GOP operative Andy Parrish, says in the document that he and Bachmann relied on the senator's word that the payments were allowed.
At issue are payments made by the Bachmann presidential campaign to Iowa Sen. Kent Sorenson. Iowa Senate ethics rules prohibited such payments to a state lawmaker from a presidential candidate, and the payments are now the focus of a probe by an Iowa Senate ethics panel, as well as the Federal Election Commission.
Sorenson or his company, Grassroots Strategy, allegedly were paid $7,500 a month through C&M Strategies, a Colorado-based company run by Bachmann fundraiser Guy Short, the Star Tribune reports. Sorenson has stressed that he did nothing wrong. Bachmann also denies wrongdoing.
Parrish, a high-profile GOP operative, says in the affidavit that “Congresswoman Bachmann knew of and approved this arrangement." But he adds, “She, like the rest of us, understood from Senator Sorenson that it did not run afoul of any Iowa Senate ethics rules. We relied on his representations in this regard.”
But the Star Tribune adds this wrinkle: Bachmann’s campaign in an Oct. 27, 2011 press release acknowledged in plain sight the restrictions that Sorenson faced: “Sorenson is serving in a full-time role but state Senate rules preclude lawmakers from being paid by the campaign.”
The Star Tribune has a copy of the affidavit.
MPR notes that Parrish in his affidavit also says that his testimony is not a "rebuke or betrayal of Congresswoman Bachmann," adding that she is an "outstanding public servant."
Bachmann attorney William McGinley blasted media coverage of the probe, KARE 11 reports.
"This dispute is between the Iowa Senate and an Iowa senator. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Congresswoman Bachmann or her political committees," McGinley said. "For anyone to suggest otherwise is both dishonest and reprehensible."
Other legal complications have grown out of Bachmann's failed presidential bid. A lawsuit by former staffer Barbara Heki accuses Sorenson of stealing an e-mail list of Iowa home-school families from her personal computer. And the independent Office of Congressional Ethics is also looking into whether the campaign improperly helped promote Bachmann’s book, "Core of Conviction."