Ex-aide says Bachmann withheld pay

A staffer for Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-Minn.) unsuccessful presidential campaign says she has shorted him and other staffers on debts owed from the Iowa caucuses a year ago.

Dr. Peter Waldron said he believes the payment might have been withheld because the staffers cooperated with a law enforcement investigation of the campaign.

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Waldron, a consultant in charge of outreach to Christian voters for the Bachmann for President campaign, said the campaign has refused to pay him and several other staffers for more than a year. The cumulative sum is small, about $5,000, Waldron said.

“I haven’t any idea, and I say that with great candor and humility, as to why Michele chooses not to pay a handful of staff,” said Waldron in an interview.

He suspects the payment has become embroiled in a lawsuit and criminal investigation into allegations that Bachmann’s Iowa campaign chairman stole a valuable voter list.

Waldron said he and several staffers on the campaign payroll were led to believe they would receive a full month’s pay for helping to clean up and shut down Bachmann’s Iowa campaign office after last year’s Jan. 3 caucuses.

“The staff submitted invoices with an expectation that they would be provided with an entire month’s retainer and there was every reason to believe that each of the employees in Iowa would be paid,” he said.

“After 12 months and many broken promises by Michele’s finance chairman, Jim Pollack, I made the decision that I was going to go public with the story,” he said.

After Waldron asked Bachmann’s husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, to intervene, he said the staffers who were owed money received a non-disclosure form requiring them to speak with Bachmann’s attorneys before consulting with law enforcement investigators or other lawyers about the campaign.

Waldron suspects the payments might have been suspended because they cooperated with a criminal investigation over a stolen voter list.

“Michele Bachmann and her senior staff are involved in a lawsuit in Polk County, Iowa, and there’s a criminal investigation under way,” he said. “Many of our staff are involved in either depositions or interviews with the police.

“It’s probably not a coincidence that all the people who have not been paid are the very people who have either given depositions, given affidavits or have been interviewed extensively by the police,” he said.

James Pollack, who served as national finance chairman of the Bachmann campaign, disputed the claims.

“Mr. Waldron's presentation of the facts and related allegations are false and inaccurate,” he said. “Why Mr. Waldron would be motivated to attempt to disparage the congresswoman, the campaign or fellow campaign members I can't explain.”

Pollack said only one Iowa consulting firm is still owed $3,000.

“We have been in communication and anticipate bringing resolution to this invoice shortly. There are two Iowa consultants who recently submitted invoices to us, over 11 months after the campaign concluded, each of which are significantly under a thousand dollars. We are in the process of resolving these as well."

He said Waldron and other staffers have no basis for claiming compensation for work done after Bachmann dropped out of the race.

“It should be noted the presidential campaign suspended all activity on Jan. 4, 2011, so any claims for compensation through the month of January 2011 are erroneous,” he said.

Waldron’s company, Vertical Horizons One, received several payments ranging from $5,000 to $5,500 for campaign management as well as reimbursement for travel and meals during the summer and fall of 2011.

Waldron is founder and president of Christians Restoring America’s Greatness. His website says he has done work for the presidential campaigns of former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Dan Kotman, Bachmann’s congressional spokesman, declined to comment on the allegation because it is a campaign-related issue.

A spokesman for what remains of the campaign organization could not be reached.

Barb Heki, a former grassroots coordinator, filed a lawsuit against the Bachmann campaign and its senior aides in July claiming Bachman’s Iowa chairman, state Sen. Kent Sorenson, took a list of Christian home-school advocates from her private computer.

She later filed a theft report with the Urbandale police department and told officers the private email list was stolen in November of 2011, according to The Stillwater Patch.

Public records show Heki received several $2,500 payments from the campaign for her work.

The Bachmann campaign sent emails to addresses obtained from the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) list after the alleged theft. The Bachmann campaign told NICHE the unauthorized upload of addresses was inadvertent.

Fundraising disclosure documents show the Bachmann for President campaign owed $170,000 in debts and obligations and had $53,000 in cash on hand at the end of November.

Pollack, the national finance chairman, said, “Mrs. Bachmann has paid off in excess of 90 percent of her presidential campaign debt and we look forward to accurately resolving any residual outstanding campaign debt in the very near future.”