Does Michele Bachmann Have any Nonprofit Cred?

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May 9, 2011; Source: Bloomberg News | Tea Party favorite Michele Bachmann may not be a viable candidate and perhaps might not even run, but she seems to have inherited Sarah Palin’s mantle of being the unbelievably conservative Republican woman potentially in the race. Does she have any nonprofit bona fides?

To give her credit, she is an avid soldier in the Tea Party movement, proudly promoting the Partyites around the nation, endorsing their programs, even when they excoriate John Boehner’s Republican Party leadership as too “surrenderist” to the Democrats. Tea Partiers go nearly apoplectic about the idea of her as a presidential candidate, and she could do well in early primaries such as Iowa and South Carolina that appeal to far right wing Republicans.

Prior to the advent of the Tea Party, she was (and still is, for that matter) quite the Christian activist. She and her husband, Dr. Marcus Bachmann, own a for-profit clinic, Bachmann & Associates, providing “Christian counseling” on topics such as anger management, family of origin issues, learning disabilities, shame, spiritual issues, and eating disorders. Bloomberg News notes that Bachmann’s five biological children all attend religious schools, but her 23 foster children (all girls) over the years were put into public schools.

Minnesota is the home of the first charter school in the nation, and Michele Bachmann helped create one of the state’s first, the New Heights School in Stillwater. During her time with the school, Bachmann was part of efforts to ban the Disney movie “Aladdin” because it showed magic, and to require school prayers and a religious curriculum. When the religious organizing came to light and ticked off parents, Bachmann resigned from the charter school’s board.

Bachmann is no policy wonk. In Congress, she “hasn’t,” according to Bloomberg, “shepherded any major legislation through the House.” Rather, as a local conservative/religious values schools advocate, as a protester at clinics that perform abortions, as the doyenne of the Tea Party movement, Bachmann has functioned as a quintessential community activist.

Conservative columnist George Will is one of many on the right who don’t remotely consider Bachmann a serious presidential candidate. But, rather than an artificial creation of hidden corporate special interests, Bachmann appears to be the product of – and now stage manager of – a swath of grassroots activism.—Rick Cohen