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Ethics panel extends Michele Bachmann probe

WASHINGTON -- Allegations surrounding Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and her brief presidential campaign are getting further examination from the House Ethics Committee.

The panel said in a brief statement yesterday it is extending until at least September a review of Bachmann's case, which was referred to by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative body. The panel said it would announce any further action by Sept. 11.

The committee announced similar extensions of ethics investigations for three other members of Congress: Reps. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) and John Tierney (D-Mass.).

The panel said it would announce further action on those cases, too, in September.

William McGinley, a lawyer for Bachmann, acknowledged the ethics investigation in March, saying it was tied to her presidential bid and that the tea party favorite was cooperating with the investigation. Bachmann has denied any wrongdoing but announced in May she would not seek re-election.

In a statement yesterday, McGinley said the committee's extension was routine and expressed confidence that Bachmann will be vindicated.

"Today's statement by the House Ethics Committee emphasizes that its customary 45-day extension does not 'indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,' " McGinley said. "It does not speak to the merits of this matter, and any inference to the contrary is false."

He added, "We are confident the committee will discover, upon proper review, that the highly politicized allegations made at the OCE level were baseless and without merit."

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