More troubles for Bachmann campaign over contact list

The strange case of a leaked contact list still plagues Bachmann's failed presidential campaign

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 10, 2013 4:23PM (EST)

 Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.                 (Facebook/teambachmann)
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. (Facebook/teambachmann)

Michele Bachmann's unsuccessful presidential campaign is still plagued by internal squabbles months after she dropped out of the race, over the use of a contact list for home-school families.

In a September 4 affadavit, obtained by the Iowa Republican and published last week, Bachmann's Iowa adviser Eric Woolson accuses former State Sen. Kent Sorenson, also the Iowa chairman of Bachmann's campaign, of stealing the list of contact information for the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE) from another one of Bachmann's staffers, Barb Heki.

NBC News reports:

The list was the at the center of a flap late in Bachmann's presidential run, when a powerful Iowa home-school network called “NICHE” complained that its collection of contacts for thousands of home-school families had been mined by the campaign and used to expand its fundraising.

At the time, the campaign called the emails a "mistake."  The campaign agreed to pay NICHE, a 501c3 nonprofit, several thousand dollars in order to keep the group compliant with federal elections law.

But in his affidavit, Woolson says he approached Sorenson on the same day the fundraising emails were sent, and was told the list had been stolen.

From the affidavit:

I went to Sen. Kent Sorenson’s office to tell him because he was the campaign’s state chair. Kent smiled at me and said, “Do you want to know how it happened?”

I said, “No,” and tried to back out of the office. Kent said they weren’t getting anything out of Barb (Heki), so when she stepped out of the office they took it.

Kent said, “We stood watch.”

Heki, who was also the campaign's Homeschool Coalitions Director and a member of NICHE, filed a lawsuit last year against Bachmann, Sorenson, Woolsen and other top staffers, claiming she was falsely accused of leaking the list and punished for it.

Sorenson has repeatedly denied that the list was stolen. "Nothing new here," he told NBC News.  "Same story being recycled."

The fighting over the list is just another one of the problems Bachmann faces from her former Iowa campaign staffers, five of whom claim she has refused to pay them in the year since her presidential bid ended.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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