Ethics concerns may keep Bachmann from attending Tea Party convention

Ethics concerns surrounding the funding of next month's Tea Party Convention in Nashville could force Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) to stay home, the congresswoman said Wednesday.

However, Bachmann, one of the movement's most fervent supporters, stressed her possible decision not to speak at the event in no way doubles as a "repudiation" of the Tea Party's core principles.

"The ethics rules are very stringent here, and the last thing any of us want to do is violate an ethics rule. I think neither myself nor anyone else wants to be the example, the test case for this," Bachmann told reporters.

ADVERTISEMENT
At issue is the funding structure of the upcoming Tea Party Nation convention, scheduled for the first weekend in February. The revelation that the gathering of conservatives is a for-profit event raises concerns about how Bachmann -- and other lawmakers -- might pay to attend the event.

Previously, the congresswoman planned to pay for transportation, in particular, using campaign dollars -- a permissible practice under most circumstances, her office explained. However, last week's ruling in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case puts those plans in jeopardy.

The court in that ruling created new stipulations for how for-profit groups, like Tea Party Nation, could interact with candidates, explained a top GOP aide told The Hill.

The group itself is unprecedented in its rationale, mission and funding, the aide added, prompting lawmakers to question whether their attendance is permitted under the Supreme Court's new campaign finance rules.

Bachmann repeated those concerns Wednesday, noting she would "air on the side of caution" and re-evaluate her attendance as more information as available.

"I am concerned about it as well, there's new information that's come up that we weren't aware of at the time, and we're trying to work with the standards committee to see if it's even possible to go," the congresswoman told reporters after a media event on Wednesday. "If there isn't a clear cut answer from the standards committee, then I don't know that I would be able to go."

But she stressed she still supported the group and its goals, regardless of her ability to travel to Nashville.

"That is not in any way a repudiation of the Tea Party, the Tea Party movement or what the Tea Party is doing, she said. "I stand four-square behind people who stand behind the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and what they're doing. But if because of ethics rules... I can't go, I can't violate those rules."