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Under Fire on Multiple Fronts, Michele Bachmann Announces Retirement from Congress

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Tea Party darling and failed presidential candidate currently under investigation for unethical campaign spending and under pressure from a surging Democrat challenger, has announced that she will not seek another term.

Bachmann, who has served four terms in the House of Representatives, announced her impending retirement in a video posted on her website.

The staunchly conservative Bachmann struck a defiant tone in the video, claiming she could defeat Democrat challenger Jim Graves, who came within 5,000 votes of unseating her in last November’s election despite a 12-1 Bachmann spending advantage. According to the results of a recent poll published by the Graves campaign, he and Bachmann are locked in a statistical dead heat.

But Bachmann claims this has nothing to do with her decision.

“Be assured my decision was not in any way influenced by any concerns about my being reelected to Congress,” she says during the eight-minute video.

Bachmann also claims that her decision to retire “was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff.” As The Atlantic observed, “inquiries is a mild way of putting it”:

Bachmann’s former national field coordinator, Peter Waldron, turned on her and in March filed complaints against her presidential campaign organization and political action committee with the Federal Election Commission. The Office of Congressional Ethics is also conducting a probe of her campaign payment arrangements. Also investigating the conduct of the Bachmann presidential campaign are: the FBI’s public integrity section, an Iowa special investigator requested by the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, and the Urbandale, Iowa police department.

So, then, what is Bachmann’s explanation for calling it quits? She says she is retiring because eight years in Congress is long enough for anyone.

“Our constitution allows for the decision of length of service in Congress to be determined by the congresspeople themselves or by the voter in the district. However, the law limits anyone from serving as president of the United States for more than eight years, and in my opinion, well, eight years is also long enough for an individual to serve as a representative of a specific congressional district,” Bachmann asserts.

Some of Bachmann’s Democrat colleagues in the House are skeptical of her stated reasons for throwing in the towel.

“Michele Bachmann is not retiring because she thinks her Tea Party views are out of touch. She’s retiring because she’s under investigation,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) told the New York Times. “What really concerns me now is the competition that will emerge in the House GOP to fill her shoes. That competition is going to pull House Republicans even further to the right of where they are now.”

Bachmann is about as far-right as it gets in Congress. From her notoriously homophobic proclamations to her attacks on Muslims to her peculiar assertions that natural disasters were retaliation by the Judeo-Christian deity figure ‘God’ for out-of-control government spending, Bachmann provided a stream of endless fodder for pundits, comedians and her opposition.

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