Michele Bachmann turns again to "The Fixer" in Tampa
Nancy Watkins, the fastidious campaign finance guru from Tampa who has helped countless Republican candidates avoid running afoul of federal of state campaign laws, served as Michele Bachmann's campaign treasurer in 2012. Now, The Hill reports, she's helping Bachmann clean up her congressional and political action committees:
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has brought in a new treasurer for her congressional campaign and leadership political action committee in the wake of a federal grand jury probe, a potential House Ethics investigation and a possible inquiry from the Federal Election Commission.
Nancy Watkins, a well-known campaign finance treasurer in GOP circles, submitted paperwork a few weeks ago naming her the new treasurer of both campaign accounts for the Minnesota Republican. Watkins is still the treasurer for Bachmann’s failed 2011 presidential bid, and despite allegations of impropriety surrounding that campaign, Watkins’ stewardship of that account has not been questioned.
“She is a fixer, in terms of coming in and cleaning-up the mess that other people left behind,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at Arent Fox.
Kappel described Watkins as a “total straight arrow” who has been asked by other troubled GOP campaign committees to “clean up the books.”
Former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., brought Watkins in to help him fix his reporting lapses. He ended up paying the FEC a hefty $99,000 fine.
Former Arizona GOP Rep. Rick Renzi also hired Watkins to help him deal with FEC violations. He paid a $25,000 fine. Earlier this year, Renzi was found guilty of 17 felonies connected to a land-swap deal, including conspiracy, racketeering and money laundering.
Like others before her, Bachmann appears to face some potential legal troubles. An Office of Congressional Ethics report released Wednesday said there was “substantial reason” to believe that Bachmann authorized or failed to prevent illegal contributions between her campaign committees, and that she improperly mixed promotion of her book, “Core of Conviction,” with her presidential campaign activities.
In particular, Bachmann is accused of using her leadership PAC, Michele PAC, to subsidize her presidential campaign activities, particularly when it came to paying Guy Short, the director of the leadership PAC.