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  • Michele Bachmann Aides Won't Stop Snitching

    Michele Bachmann suspends her campaignFive former Michele Bachmann staffers are accusing the former presidential candidate of not paying them for their campaign work unless they sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits them talking about any "unethical, immoral, or criminal activity" they may have witnessed during the campaign. (This is probably the least-abusive thing a Republican politician has done to workers in the past few months.)

    Thanks to Peter Waldron, a full-time evangelical crusader, part-time Bachmann campaign volunteer and one-time terrorism suspect, we know what those shady activities may have been.

    According to a complaint Waldron filed with the FEC, the Bachmann campaign illegally sent payments to Iowa state campaign chairman Kent Sorenson — a state senator who later joined Ron Paul's campaign — and improperly used money from MichelePAC to pay a fundraising consultant.

    In addition to these small-time campaign finance infractions, Waldron accused Bachmann of being under the "Rasputin-like" spell of her debate coach, Brett O'Donnell, who allegedly "prohibited her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, from sleeping in the same room with wife while on the campaign trail."

    Naturally, these allegations are being denied by other Bachmann staffers, a few of whom are not crazed fanatics once accused of arms-smuggling in Africa. Nevertheless, all of these staffers did at one time agree that Bachmann was the best person to be the next President of the United States, so it's not clear whom we should trust.

    In the meantime, we need more staffers to reveal more dirt about Bachmann, like how she manages to keep getting elected in Minnesota and what she did with the other "L" in her name.

    The 56 Best Things About Michele Bachmann

    Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

    Tags: FEC, Fundraising, Marcus Bachmann, Michele Bachmann
  • Larry Craig Was on Official Senate Business in Airport Toilet Stall

    Remember Larry Craig, the Idaho Senator who was arrested for trying to pick up a cop in a Minneapolis airport bathroom stall, entered a guilty plea and then spent thousands of dollars keeping the scandal in the news by trying to convince the courts that he just has a "wide stance" when he urinates in a totally heterosexual manner in airport restrooms?

    To pay for lawyers, Craig converted $217,000 of his campaign fund to personal use, a maneuver the Federal Election Commission took issue with in June, when they sued Craig, claiming his legal fees had no connection to his campaign for federal office. Craig's response: screwing with people is the official business of the U.S. Senate, he just took that charge less figuratively than most

    Craig counters that money tied to his airport bathroom trip was for neither personal use nor his campaign, but fell under his official, reimbursable duties as senator because he was traveling between Idaho and the nation's capital for work.

    He cites a U.S. Senate rule in which reimbursable per diem expenses include all charges for meals, lodging, hotel fans, cleaning, pressing of clothing — and bathrooms.

    "Not only was the trip itself constitutionally required, but Senate rules sanction reimbursement for any cost relating to a senator's use of a bathroom while on official travel," wrote Andrew Herman, Craig's lawyer in Washington, D.C.

    Of course, most Americans manage to use the bathroom without incurring over $200,000 in legal expenses, but Craig seems to have legal precedent on his side. When Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona was investigated by the Department of Justice for a rafting trip he took with two male pages, the FEC concluded that Kolbe's legal expenses were an  "ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with his duty as a House member."

    That is a very wide stance on the responsibilities of elected officials, but law's the law.

    Photo by Tom Brown/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Tags: FEC, Larry Craig
  • Jon Stewart Is Adrift in a Sea of Colbert Super PAC Money

    How do you spend a newly-found fortune in political contributions? It's a question that every red-blooded American will have to answer at some point in his or her life. Except for most.

    The Daily Show airs Monday through Thursday at 11/10c.

    Tags: Colbert Super PAC, FEC, Food, Jon Stewart, Money, Super PACs, The Daily Show, Video
  • Stephen Colbert on Super PAC Issue Ads

    Here's an excellent rule of thumb when considering anything in your life: If Karl Rove is in favor it it, it's probably the best idea ever!

    Coverage continues with Stephen's personal attorney Trevor Potter and a Colbert Super PAC issue ad featuring GOP primary nominee Buddy Roemer after the jump.

    The Colbert Report airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30/10:30c.

    Read More »

    Tags: Ben Nelson, Buddy Roemer, Colbert Super PAC, Democrats, FEC, Karl Rove, Money, Nebraska, Primaries, Republicans, Rick Perry, Stephen Colbert, The Colbert Report, Trevor Potter, Video
  • Americans Elect Will Cleanup Politics With Secret Donations, an Issue-free Platform, and Magical Thinking

    With Congress enjoying record-low approval ratings and Washington seemingly unable to cope with the challenges of a sputtering economy, many have suggested the time is ripe for reforming the political process. The Senate could reduce the number of veto-points in our political system by eliminating the filibuster. Or Congress could pass campaign finance reform in response to the Citizens United ruling.

     Or, an amorphous third-party group could combine the civility and policy insight of random Internet commenters with the democratic influence of secret hedge fund donors to run a candidate for president

    Thousands of volunteers are charged now with recruiting more than 1 million delegates, who will start drafting candidates for the special ticket this winter. Next spring, according to the Americans Elect plan, they will vote in three rounds online, and the field will be narrowed to six names. Those names then must be willing to run and declare their intention to do so, which will include setting up a campaign and filing with the Federal Elections Commission. And then in June, the delegates will vote again, in up to three rounds online, until a majority is reached for the actual candidate.

    In other words, by June, organizers of Americans Elect are going to be scrambling to figure out how to keep Lyndon LaRouche from becoming their candidate. But wait! Even a vanity third-party effort requires financing to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Just whose cash will save us from the partisan duopoly?

    Kahlil Byrd, the group's CEO, said it is operating "completely within the bounds" of the law. He noted that unlike a traditional political group, "Americans Elect has no candidate and has no issue."

    As for the donors, he said, the reason they want to remain secret is to avoid political payback. "This is a very tough political environment," he said. "Retribution is real."

     I haven't been this excited by a vague, pointless, secretive billionaire-funded third-party effort since Unity '08 No Labels.

    Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images News/GettyImages

    Tags: FEC, Third Party