Nightly News   |  May 29, 2013

Bachmann denies PAC probe influenced decision to quit Congress

Michele Bachmann, who has become one of the best-known conservative voices in America, announced she will not seek a fifth congressional term amid controversy over the use of campaign funds. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports.

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>>> now to a surprise announcement from michele bachmann , the one-time presidential contender. a lightning rod of sorts in washington. she says she's leaving congress at the end of her term. she says ethics inquiries stemming from her failed presidential bid have nothing to do with this decision. our report tonight from nbc's andrea mitchell .

>> reporter: on youtube the tea party leader, one of the best known conservative voices in america, announced she's quitting congress next year.

>> i have decided next year i will not seek a 5th congressional term.

>> reporter: she first attracted attention for attacking barack obama in 2008 .

>> i'm very concerned that he may have anti-american views. that's what the american people are concerned about.

>> reporter: she was a breakout star in the first republican primary debate two years ago.

>> i'm a wife of 33 years. i have had five children. we are the proud foster parents of 23 great children.

>> reporter: and fought her way to an upset victory in the iowa straw poll two months later.

>> there is no cooler place in the united states than iowa.

>> reporter: but there were stumbles along the trail. she repeated false claims about the hpv vaccine .

>> she told me her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter. it can have very dangerous side effects .

>> reporter: a poorly delivered tea party response to the president's state of the union prompted a classic snl spoof.

>> we can have an economy that looks like this. oh.

>> reporter: in the end, a 6th place finish in the iowa caucasus -- caucuses forced her to suspend her presidential campaign . she was a legendary fund-raiser. $15 million in her last congressional race, the most for any district in the country. she won re-election narrowly and was already running ads.

>> great news. the u.s. house just passed my bill to repeal obama care.

>> reporter: she denies she's retiring because of an ethics probe into payments by her pac.

>> this decision was not impacted by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or former presidential staff.

>> reporter: while she's closing this chapter, few people think this is the end of her story. andrea mitchell , nbc news, washington.