The Permanent Campaign Without an Election

Michele Bachmann last ran for re-election to Congress in 2012, not too long after her presidential candidacy crashed and burned. But guess what? Her reelection campaign account is still open and still spending pretty regularly, per this report from Allison Sherry of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Michele Bachmann hasn’t run for office in nearly three years, but the former Minnesota congresswoman is still raising cash and spending lavishly, dropping $300 on limousines in New York right around Thanksgiving and staying last fall at the luxurious L’Ermitage hotel in Beverly Hills, where most rooms go for $400 a night or higher.

Records show Bachmann for Congress spent roughly $25,000 in the last three months of 2014 on airline tickets, a private club membership and pricey dinners in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and New York. Her campaign even paid $470 to renew the plates on a vehicle in St. Paul last December — weeks before she stepped down from office.

How’s this possible? Well, campaign laws allow allow “members, even retired members, to continue to raise money if they have campaign-related debt.” Bachmann still has some debt, mostly to unpaid vendors. But she has enough cash-on-hand ($1.6 million) to pay them all off if she wanted. Instead she’s still raising and spending money.

Could this go on perpetually? I suppose, though even the current loosey-goosey rules limit spending to bona-fide “political or campaign activities.” It may depend on whether anybody bothers to go after Bachmann for this questionable activity in a serious way.

I have to say, this wingnut’s wingnut continues to amaze. I talk all the time about being in the era of “the permanent campaign” (a term, by the way, I think was first used by Sid Blumenthal way back in 1980). But the “permanent campaign without an election” is a new one.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.