MICHELE MARIE (AMBLE) BACHMANN
She’s baaaaack. (Or should we say, she’s Bach?) And she now has a soap box in the Old Dominion!
Do you remember Michele Bachmann? A former darling of the right, the Republican served in Congress from 2007 to 2015, representing the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. A Jimmy Carter supporter in 1976, she switched sides and became famous for anti-abortion protests and as a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus. She ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.
Now she has a presence in Virginia. Bachmann has recently been appointed Regent University’s dean of the Robertson School of Government. The announcement was made by Dr. M. G. “Pat” Robertson, Founder, Chancellor & CEO of Regent, located in Virginia Beach. Bachmann’s husband, Marcus, is a clinical therapist who holds a master’s degree from Regent University. The university describes itself as offering degrees from a Christian perspective in more than 135 areas of study.
Controversy has also followed the Bachmanns as a result of their ownership of a Christian counseling practice, Bachmann & Associates, managed by Marcus, who has a Ph.D. with “a concentration in clinical psychology” but is not a licensed clinical psychologist in Minnesota. The clinic received nearly $30,000 from Minnesota government agencies between 2006 and 2010 in addition to at least $137,000 in federal payments and $24,000 in government grants for counselor training. In an interview, Michele Bachmann said that she and her husband had not benefited at taxpayer expense, stating, “the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees.” Marcus Bachmann has claimed that Bachmann & Associates did not provide sexual conversion therapy, a controversial psychological treatment that has been repudiated by the American Psychological Association as unethical and without medical basis. A former client of Bachmann’s clinic and a hidden camera investigator with the activist group Truth Wins Out showed that therapists at the clinic, in fact, engaged in such practices. In a subsequent interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Marcus Bachmann did not deny that he or other counselors at his clinic used the technique, but said they did so only at a client’s request. Blaming the client/patient is always a formidable defense.
Bachmann has always been staunchly anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQ rights. She has publicly called homosexuality “sexual dysfunction”, “sexual identity disorders”, and “personal enslavement” leading to “sexual anarchy.”
An extreme Christian view for a religious university.
Of her many questionable comments Michele spoke about climate change offering: “[it] is all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” She explained, “because life requires carbon dioxide and it is part of the planet’s life cycle, it cannot be harmful.” So much for academic freedom at a School of Government. In 2008, she introduced a bill, the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act, which would have repealed two sections of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 signed into law by George W. Bush and supported by President Obama. The 2007 Energy Act mandates energy efficiency and labeling standards for incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. In 2019, P45 rolled back the regulatory provisions of the Act, claiming manufacturers were forcing consumers to purchase more expensive bulbs.
On health care, Bachmann contributed to the “death panel” controversy when she read from a newspaper article on the House floor, quoting Sarah Palin as saying that her “death panel” remark was inspired by what she called the “Orwellian” opinions of Ezekiel Emanuel as described by Bachmann, who accused him of advocating health care rationing by age and disability.
In the financial sector, she introduced legislation to repeal the Dodd–Frank financial reform law. Said Barney Frank, its coauthor, “Michele Bachmann, the Club for Growth, and others in the right-wing coalition have now made their agenda for the financial sector very clear: they yearn to return to the thrilling days of yesteryear, so the loan arrangers can ride again—untrammeled by any rules restraining irresponsibility, excess, deception, and most of all, infinite leverage.” The law survived.
In 2012 she stoked more controversy by linking people, without evidence, with the Muslim Brotherhood–including her colleague, Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, and former Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. The response was fierce. In a speech on the Senate floor, 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain denounced Bachmann’s charges as “specious and degrading.” And House Speaker John Boehner termed Bachmann’s allegations “dangerous.”
Bachmann became the subject of five ethics investigation before leaving Congress. In 2013 she was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, the Federal Election Commission, the Iowa Senate Ethics Committee, the Urbandale Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation due to alleged campaign finance violations in her 2012 campaign for president. It was alleged that members of her staff made under-the-table payments, that funds were illegally transferred from her leadership PAC to pay consultants for her presidential campaign, and that hidden payments were made to Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson. In July 2013, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was conducting a full investigation of Bachmann, saying that they had received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics. At her retirement in January 2015, the ethics investigations were dropped.
Two journalists summed up her time in Washington thus: Bachmann left a “legacy of political missteps and lots of incendiary rhetoric—often loaded with false accusations and wild exaggerations.” Bachmann will find many in the Commonwealth who sympathize with her views. Virginia’s higher education community remains even for now with the loss of Jerry Falwell, Jr. Perhaps he may be recruited to Regent University.