The lovable, slightly dopey, slightly dumpy husband always causing problems for his thin, smart, shiny-haired wife is a tired sitcom trope, but it's becoming a narrative thread in Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign. Marcus Bachmann has drawn a lot of negative attention for his comments about gay people (OK, not always so lovable) and for accepting federal grants to train employees at his Christian counseling clinic. And now it appears he claimed on campaign finance forms that he drove an almost impossible number of miles, getting reimbursed thousands of dollars. Oh, that Marcus. What will he do next? (Cue laugh track.)
Joy Ride The Daily Caller's Matt Lewis reports that Marcus was reimbursed $6,230 for mileage between November 28 and December 31, 2006.
Granted, $6,230 hardly seems like a shockingly large amount of money for a spouse to be reimbursed for campaign expenses. But considering that the IRS's standard mileage rate was 44.5 cents per mile, and that the farthest opposing corners of Minnesota’s 6th District stretch about 120 miles, Marcus Bachmann would have had to have driven 14,000 miles (58 round trips) in the span of one month to warrant the money.
This, of course, seems physically impossible and highly unlikely (especially considering that the mileage was accrued after Bachmann had already won). As such, my guess is that the mileage probably accrued throughout the campaign, but was never reported until after Election Day--a violation of FEC law.
Cold Shoulder But Bachmann's campaign is protective of Marcus. An Iowa TV station--a crew any candidate would want to impress in this early voting state--was "aggressively" denied access to Bachmann this week after they asked her about her husband's clinic's use of "reparative therapy," which claims to turn gays straight.
Teen Suicides Nine teens have killed themselves--some of them after being bullied for being gay--in Bachmann's Minnesota district in the past two years, Mother Jones' Stephanie Mencimer reports. In 2006, Bachmann would not support anti-bullying bill, saying, "I think for all of us, our experience in public schools is there have always been bullies.... Always have been, always will be.... Will we be expecting boys to be girls?" Minnesota officials have declared the district a "suicide-contagion area," with the Justice Department and the Education Department's Civil Rights office investigating how bullying of gay kids might have been involved in the deaths. Bachmann hasn't commented on the suicides.
Home-Loan Hypocrisy Bachmann has been a sharp critic of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but in 2008, she and her husband took out a home loan through the federally backed agencies, The Washington Post's Kimberly Kindy reports. Bachmann got the loan just weeks before she called for the programs to be dismantled.
Absentee Since Bachmann started running for president, she has skipped out on 37 percent of House votes, The Hill's Michael O'Brien reports. She has promised to vote against Speaker John Boehner's plan to raise the debt ceiling, however.
And Yet Her Strength Grows The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza argues that the more Bachmann is attacked for petty things--like her makeup bill--the stronger she gets. "First, they make her a more empathetic figure in the eyes of Republican primary voters," Cillizza writes. "Second ... Bachmann is able to use it to remind voters that she is the only woman in the race and deride the attacks as, if not downright sexist, the sort of thing that female politicians have to deal with that men simply don’t."