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Ethics panel to continue review of Bachmann presidential campaign

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) speaks at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference on March 16, 2013 in National Harbor, Maryland.Pete Marovich/Getty Image

The House Ethics Committee on Wednesday announced it will continue its review of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann over allegation that she violated campaign finance law during her 2012 presidential run.

Bachmann, who in May announced she would not seek a fifth term in Congress, has denied any wrongdoing related to probes by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) into whether her campaign illegally compensated or concealed payments to staff.

The report concluded there to be "substantial reason to believe that Representative Bachmann authorized, permitted, or failed to prevent" funds from her leadership Political Action Committee to improperly compensate a campaign aide during her White House bid.

George Short, who in 2010 was hired as a political consultant to run the PAC, also worked on the Bachmann campaign when it launched in 2011 and was paid by both entities, according to the OCE. “Funds from the leadership PAC may have been used to subsidize her presidential campaign,” the report said.

The OCE also found there was evidence the Minnesota congresswoman used resources from her campaign to promote her book "Core of Convictions."

However the committee did recommend Ethics Committee dismiss allegations that Bachmann concealed payments to Iowa State Senator Ken Sorenson, who helped lead the campaign's in the months leading up to the Iowa caucuses. The report found "there is not substantial reason" to believe Bachmann knew FEC reports filed by her campaign were false.

Bachmann's short-lived campaign peaked in August 2011 when she won the Iowa Straw Poll, but soon fizzled out and ended after a disappointing finish in the Iowa caucuses five months later. 

The OCE, made up of an even number of Democrats and Republicans, voted unanimously for the report to be sent to the House Ethics Committee. The independent organization is tasked with investigating possible ethics violations with members of Congress, and then refers their finding to the House Ethics Committee.

The committee on Wednesday also recommended continuing to review possible violations of two other lawmakers, Illinois Republican Rep. Pete Roskam and New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop. The OCE stopped short of calling for a full-blown investigation into each of the three cases.