When Michele Bachmann's presidential campaign ended, she faced a decision: pay former aides the money they were owed, or make them sign a nondisclosure agreement first? She chose poorly. A still-unpaid aides has begun leaking colorful stories to the press. Bachmann's former Iowa field coordinator Peter Waldron now tells BuzzFeed's Andrew Kaczynski that Bachmann's famous debate coach, Brett O'Donnell, had a "Rasputin-like" relationship with the congresswoman. Waldron said O'Donnell's power was so great that he forbid Bachmann from sleeping in the same bed as her husband while on the campaign trail.
Now, this could be yet another instance when the act of being female strongly colors how a person's actions are interpreted. Lots of male sports coaches urge their male athletes to avoid sex before games to boost their performance. But it seems a little weird in a non-sports context. Waldron alleges other odd behavior:
"He prohibited her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, from sleeping in the same room with wife while on the campaign trail," Waldron said in an email to BuzzFeed. "He prohibited legendary consultants Ed Rollins and Ed Goeas from attending debate prep sessions. He told her when she could get off the bus (Waterloo event with Gov. Perry), he wrote most of the words that came out of her mouth, he wrote all of her speeches."
You'd expect a top consultant to write a candidate's speeches and tell her how to campaign. As for the other stuff, it's quite possible Waldron is stretching the truth. He issued a press release saying Bachmann's campaign had demanded former aides sign a confidentiality agreement that prevented them from speaking about "unethical, illegal, or immoral activity." But the Minneapolis Star Tribune got its hands on the agreement, which bars speaking about all kinds of "activities relating to the campaign." It doesn't say anything about illegal or unethical behavior. Waldron told the paper, "that's my understanding of the restriction."
O'Donnell is a well-respected debate coach who led Liberty University's debate team to become one of the best in the country, and Bachmann's debate performances were quite strong. O'Donnell briefly worked for Mitt Romney during his 2012 campaign, but was reportedly let go after he seemed to take a lot of credit for Romney's better debate performances in a January New York Times article. That might suggest a big ego, but what Waldron now alleges goes well beyond that:
"Once she asked me to ride on the bus with her to pray. Brett's objection was so intense that for the good of the order, I followed the bus in my personal vehicle... On one occasion, she whispered to me, 'Peter, don't get off the bus no matter who tells you to get off.' Another time, her personal assistant told me, 'Peter, Michele does not want to you leave. Stay on the bus. Please pray for us.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.