Group wants inquiry into Bachmann's 'House call' event

A watchdog group is requesting an investigation into whether Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) violated House rules earlier this month when she organized and promoted a healthcare rally using her congressional website.

In a complaint filed Tuesday with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleges that Bachmann's "House call" breached her chamber's communication guidelines, which prohibit members from using their websites for "grassroots lobbying or [soliciting] support for a member's position."

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CREW also charges that Bachmann — and other GOP members in attendance — were wrong to label their event a "press conference" in order to skirt permit requirements.

“Taxpayers fund members’ websites, and because of that those sites may not be used to organize a public rally for or against any particular legislation,”  Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said Tuesday in a statement.

“Calling a rally a press conference to circumvent congressional rules is like calling a Hummer a Prius to meet fuel efficiency standards," she added. “The OCE needs to make clear that members must abide by all rules, even those they find politically inconvenient.”

Bachmann's office, however, has so far rejected those criticisms.

The congresswoman's staff has also directed skeptics to the House Administration Committee, which concluded after an "initial review" that Bachmann's "House Call" met "the necessary criteria to qualify as a press event," one of its staff members told The Hill.

“Unfortunately, members of the media have taken allegations from the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and spread these rumors without even checking with the House Administration Committee,” Bachmann spokeswoman Debbee Keller said Tuesday.