With a new Iowa poll putting her in a dead heat with the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Rep. Michele Bachmann deflected allegations that she and her family had benefited from government assistance programs and said that hundreds of thousands of dollars to her family farm and a counseling clinic went instead to her employees and her in-laws.
"My husband and I did not get the money," she said, appearing on Sunday news talk shows as she prepared to officially open her campaign in her original hometown of Waterloo, Iowa.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Bachmann, a congresswoman from Minnesota and "tea party" favorite, portrayed herself as a fiscal conservative while also benefiting from government funds and federal farm subsidies. An examination of her record and finances showed that a counseling clinic run by her husband received nearly $30,000 from the state of Minnesota in the last five years, with part of the money coming from the federal government. And a family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received some $260,000 in federal subsidies.
Bachmann and her staff declined to talk to about the government assistance for the L.A. Times article. But asked about the issue on "Fox News Sunday," she insisted that she and her husband had not benefited at the expense of federal and state taxpayers.
"First of all," she said, "the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."
As for the farm, she said it belonged to her father-in-law. "It's not my husband and my farm," Bachmann said. "And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm."
As the Los Angeles Times reported on Sunday, however, in financial disclosure forms, Bachmann reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.
Although some of the original Times report came from the newspaper's FOIA request, other elements of the story relied on Minnesota state records. So what other candidate has deep knowledge of the Minnesota bureaucracy? And who faces the greatest threat from a conservative evangelical from Minnesota?
I would wager that at least some of the information in the Times story came via Pawlenty's oppo shop.