Stopped Clock

08.31.14

The Time Michele Bachmann Was Right

When Michele Bachmann claimed in 2011 that a supporter had been bribed to defect to Ron Paul, observers rolled their eyes. It turns out she was telling the truth.

Michele Bachmann was right.

No, the HPV vaccine still doesn’t cause retardation and historians have yet to uncover evidence that the American Revolution actually began in New Hampshire.  But it turns out the Minnesota Republican was dead on when she claimed that a supporter of her 2012 presidential bid was bribed to defect from her campaign and back Ron Paul instead.

In the days before the Iowa caucuses, the news that State Senator Kent Sorenson had jumped ship to back Paul wasn’t viewed as a potential scandal. At the time Sorenson said that his motivation was “to defeat Mitt Romney” and that Paul was the best candidate to do so. In contrast, Bachmann claimed to reporters that Sorenson “told me that he was offered money.”  She went on to elaborate that “He was offered a lot of money by the Ron Paul campaign to go and associate with the Ron Paul campaign.'' The state senator’s story seemed far more credible. After all, Bachmann has acquired a reputation for exaggeration throughout her career and it seemed to defy logic that a campaign would risk a myriad of legal repercussions to buy the endorsement of an obscure state senator. 

It also made sense for Sorenson to ditch Bachmann for entirely political reasons. The Minnesota Republican had sunk in the polls since winning the Ames Straw Poll in August and was heading towards a last place finish. In contrast, Paul was gaining momentum and the Libertarian icon seemed poised to pull a potential upset.  The natural assumption was that Sorenson was just trying to back a winner. Now, after a guilty plea in federal court, it turns out he backed Paul in exchange for $73,000 in secret payments. It also developed that Bachmann knew what she was talking about when it came to buying Sorenson's support with under-the-table money. Her campaign had been secretly paying Sorenson first.

The ensuing scandal has since enveloped a number of figures in Ron Paul’s orbit including Jesse Benton, the campaign manager for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell who was a top staffer for Paul’s 2012 campaign. Benton resigned his position with McConnell on Friday.  

It also raises a far more disturbing prospect. Shady political operatives and campaign finance scandals are commonplace. But how often is Michele Bachmann right?