Rep. Michele Bachmann appears on "Face the Nation." (Chris Usher / CBS News via…)
Reporting from Washington — Rep. Michele Bachmann deflected allegations Sunday that she and her immediate family had benefited from government assistance despite her demands to cut the federal budget, saying hundreds of thousands of dollars for her family farm and a counseling clinic went to employees and her in-laws.
"My husband and I did not get the money," the Minnesota Republican said on Sunday news shows one day before officially opening her presidential campaign in Waterloo, Iowa — her birthplace.
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that Bachmann, a "tea party" favorite, had benefited from government funds and federal farm subsidies.
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An examination of her record and finances showed that a counseling clinic run by her husband received nearly $30,000 from Minnesota and the federal government in the last five years. And a family farm in Wisconsin, where she is listed as a partner, received about $260,000 in federal subsidies.
In Bachmann's financial disclosure forms, she reported receiving between $32,503 and $105,000 in income from the farm, at minimum, between 2006 and 2009.
Bachmann and her staff had declined to comment to The Times. But asked about the issue on "Fox News Sunday," she insisted that she and her husband had not benefited at taxpayers' expense.
"First of all," she said, "the money that went to the clinic was actually training money for employees. The clinic did not get the money. And my husband and I did not get the money either. That's mental health training money that went to employees."
As for the farm, she said, it belonged to her father-in-law. "It's not my husband and my farm. And my husband and I have never gotten a penny of money from the farm."
She was not asked about her financial disclosure forms.
Bachmann repeated her opposition to federal earmarks that fund politicians' pet projects, saying "the states have to build roads and bridges," not the federal government.
Bachmann also was asked about the farm subsidies on CBS' "Face the Nation." She suggested the public instead should be outraged about a sharp increase in government limousines in the two years since President Obama took office.
She also said she had been a Christian since she was 16 and that God often steered her political course.
"When I pray, I pray believing that God will speak to me and give me an answer to that prayer," she said. "That's what a calling is. If I pray, a calling means that I feel like I have a sense from God."
She was buoyed by a Des Moines Register poll of likely Iowa caucus-goers, released Saturday night, which showed her with 22% support, statistically tied with formerMassachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's 23%.
"Part of it is because I was born in Iowa," she told Fox News. In addition, she said, since this month's GOP debate, people have "recognized that I am very serious about what I want to do."
Asked by Fox interviewer Chris Wallace whether she was a "flake" because of a "history of questionable statements" and "gaffes," Bachmann was clearly irritated.
"I think that would be insulting to say something like that," she said, "because I'm a serious person."