COMMENTARY | Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is under investigation for possible ethics violations. The Daily Beast broke the story on the fact-challenged Minnesota representative Monday after sources close to Bachmann’s ill-considered 2012 presidential campaign admitted that the independent investigative agency, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), was asking questions regarding the conduct of certain operatives involved in the campaign itself.
According to John Avlon at the Daily Beast, federal investigators from the OCE are pursuing allegations of misconduct by Bachmann’s 2012 campaign — what Avlon refers to as “Bachmann’s presidential misadventure.” Said campaign has been beleaguered with reports and lawsuits of various types of alleged wrongdoing of late. In short, the truth-challenged representative and her campaign are the focus of at least four major investigations at present.
It looks like it’s time for the GOP to distance itself from the too-often controversial Bachmann and let the OCE take her down if they can. It would certainly save the country and the Republican Party from future embarrassment from her already numerous gaffes and fact-free statements .
Just prior to Avlon’s exclusive, Bachmann was on a whirlwind tour of presenting falsehoods, making outlandish claims, and creating headlines. It all started at the Conservative Political Action Conference in mid-March where she derided President Obama with unsourced allegations about his “lavish lifestyle” which were found to be untrue. (She also called Medicaid a “ghetto” of the health care system and promoted a conspiracy theory about the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the Benghazi consulate in the same speech. And those weren’t the only falsehoods, as Politifact gave her two “Pants of Fire” awards for falsehoods on two other claims .) Her false Obama statements became an even more controversial topic when CNN corespondent Dana Bash attempted to clarify why she would present false information about the president, only to have Bachmann accuse Bash and the media for not covering Benghazi (something the media did extensively in September and October). She would be given a chance for reprieve from conservative talk show host Bill O’Reilly but turned him down, which only set the stage for O’Reilly, the most-watched political talk show host on television, to eviscerate Bachmann’s CPAC speech and subsequent comments as “trivial attacks” on the president that obfuscate real and pressing issues.
But Bachmann wasn’t done. On the eve of the third anniversary of the signing of the Affordable Care Act, she took to the House floor and, in a melodramatic speech, called for the repeal of “failed” Obamacare (it hasn’t) before it “literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens” (it won’t). Factcheck.org dissected that convoluted logic and found it wanting and the media had a field day castigating and lampooning the representative.
Bachmann has been an embarrassment to Republicans for some time. But with all these current investigations and a whole spate of new controversial statements moving in in quick succession like the confluence of weather patterns making a perfect storm, it could very well be time to bid the representative a quick adieu back to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Here’s why: With a GOP attempting a makeover, to rebrand and be seen as something other than its former self (or its perceived former self), Bachmann and those like her — like Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas — have become a liability.
Part of the Republican Party is its image, that overall perception that they’re not only a party beset with bigots and exclusionists, but religious nuts, corporate toadies, and warhawks. In short, there’s an overlying veneer of extremism associated with the party, and that extremism is often supported by the overriding public sense of arrogant ignorance exhibited by so many in the GOP. And nobody exemplifies such a blatant disregard for facts, science, and rational thought as does Bachmann.
So, even though watching her go down in litigious flames might mean taking a future hit and losing a congressional seat to a Democrat (but only if she volunteers or is forced to resign), the party could use a little house-cleaning to spruce up its image.
And what better way than letting a nonpartisan, independent ethics agency do it for them? The thing is: If the OCE recommends a full investigation into Bachmann’s campaign by the House Ethics Committee, Republicans will have to follow through and let matters take their course. Closing ranks around someone as controversial as Bachmann would only hurt the rebranding effort they’re trying so desperately to present to the public.
Besides, regardless if she or her associates are guilty of misconduct, most of her remarks are simply indefensible anyway.
So, Republicans, do yourselves a big PR favor and don’t even bother.