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N.H. staffers tell Michele Bachmann they're gone -- for real

October 24, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau
  • Michele Bachmann addresses the crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition Presidential Forum in Des Moines on Saturday.
Michele Bachmann addresses the crowd at the Faith and Freedom Coalition… (Scott Olson / Getty Images )

Removing any trace of doubt about their actions, Michele Bachmann’s staff in New Hampshire released a letter Monday stating unequivocally that they had in resigned en masse and that they expressly blamed a lack of communication between the staff and Bachmann’s campaign for the decision.

Citing a failure to communicate as the cause of the departures was laced with irony, after a mini-drama played out Friday in which Bachmann’s campaign didn’t appear to realize that its New Hampshire staff had walked out, instead claiming that all was well.

All is not well in the Bachmann camp, as the letter released Monday made clear.

The ex-staffers took pains to refute the spin by Bachmann’s national staff that there had been no walkout, saying “it should be clear that the entire N.H. team has departed.” The ex-staffers also said they have no confidence in Bachmann’s national campaign team.

“The team also wants to clarify some of the confusion regarding their departure,” they wrote. “While they collectively felt loyalty to the candidate, they no longer have faith in the national team. This is a sentiment that has been building since June, and was expressed on numerous occasions to members of the national team; it is now apparent that Team NH’s concerns were not fully shared with Congresswoman Bachmann, and were not taken seriously by some members of the national team. These are symptoms of the disease that infects too many members of the national campaign team.”

According to New Hampshire’s WMUR-TV, which broke the story of the resignations, the departing staff members included Jeff Chidester, Matt LeDuc, Caroline Gigler, Tom Lukacz and Nicole Yurek.

The staffers said they made several attempts to talk to Bachmann’s national campaign team about staying on, but were ignored.

In a radio interview Friday, Bachmann herself denied that there was a problem with her New Hampshire operation, blaming the reports on rival campaigns.

"We have called staff in New Hampshire to find out where that came from and the staff have said that isn't true, so I don't know if this is just a bad story that's being fed by a different candidate or campaign," she told Radio Iowa.

The staffers also said that because of financial troubles within Bachmann’s campaign, they had not been paid in over a month and had gotten no word from her national staff whether they could return to the payroll.

And they suggested that Bachmann’s campaign had given New Hampshire the short shrift.

“The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel. But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens. These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters,” they wrote.

“Through all this chaos, Team-NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions. Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team. Yet the members of Team-NH remained committed to Congressman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire.”

Bachmann’s campaign endured a major shakeup in September when chief strategist Ed Rollins, along with his deputy, David Polyansky, and pollster Ed Goeas resigned, leaving the day-to-day operations in the hands of Keith Nahigian.

According to an article in the National Review, Rollins left over a disagreement about strategy; he wanted Bachmann to focus solely in Iowa, where she had shown signs of connecting with voters, while others in the campaign wanted to take a more national approach.

Earlier this month, Bachmann's congressional spokesman, Doug Sactleben, also quit.

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