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Police Release Batch Of Complaints From Michele Bachmann, Staff

Newly released police reports detail episodes between 2002 and 2011 in which Rep. Michele Bachmann and her staff have consulted with police.
Charlie Riedel
Newly released police reports detail episodes between 2002 and 2011 in which Rep. Michele Bachmann and her staff have consulted with police.

Rep. Michele Bachmann is the Republican front-runner in Iowa, and she's drawing the kind of wide coverage to prove it. Politico compares her to Howard Dean; ABC reports that her husband's counseling firm may have urged gay patients to pray their way straight.

And now, police reports detail episodes in which Bachmann and her staff asked police to investigate possible crimes or to provide protection.

The reports are from two Minnesota agencies: the Stillwater Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

After sifting through the documents (and posting them online), Marc Caputo of The Miami Herald gave a quick rundown of what prompted Bachmann to call the police: "when her house was egged; when protesters threw glitter on her or held up critical signs; when her campaign yard signs were stolen; when a man wrote an email perceived as a threat; and when she screamed that two women were holding her hostage 'against my will' in a city hall restroom."

Perhaps the most unusual report involves a former nun, a bathroom and a potential charge of false imprisonment. The incident came to light last month, when the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg wrote about it.

The police report dates from 2005, when Bachmann addressed constituents of her state senate district. But the event came to an abrupt end when questions arose about gay marriage.

Here's how the Herald describes it:

Two Minnesota voters, Pamela Arnold and Nancy Cosgriff, wanted the congresswoman to answer their questions.

Cosgriff, a former nun, said she wanted to know about the 'theological underpinnings' of Bachmann's stance on gay marriage. While trying to get a response, Cosgriff said she followed Bachmann into the restroom, where the congresswoman washed her hands but wouldn't respond. Palmer then came in and asked about education, as well.

'You have to get away from the door because I have to go,' Bachmann said she asked repeatedly, according to a police report.

When Arnold tried to get an answer, Bachmann yelled 'Help me! Someone get me out of here!' Bachmann told police. Arnold and Cosgriff told police Bachmann said something like 'Help, help you're holding me against my will!'

Said Cosgriff: 'I was amazed and concerned when she erupted in this emotional outburst without provocation... I tried to apologize for any misunderstanding.'

After the incident, Bachmann inquired about "possible false imprisonment" charges. But no charges were filed against Arnold and Cosgriff.

The threat report stemmed from an email sent by Lakeland, Minn., resident Brad Trandem, a day after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was nearly killed in a shooting spree in Arizona. Trandem was questioned about his email, and the police found no evidence of a threat against the congresswoman.

In contrast to the tragic attack on Giffords, it seems almost quaint to hear of old-fashioned pranks like throwing glitter, or egging houses.

Still, that doesn't mean it's not annoying when you're the target, especially when the attack is particularly vicious. Perhaps that's why Bachmann called Stillwater police officers to her house in 2007, after "her house was "substantially egged" for the second time," the Heraldreports.

Stillwater police have also investigated the theft of Bachmann's campaign yard signs, back in 2002. And she called them to her house in 2007, when she complained her home was "substantially egged" for the second time.

It seems that none of the calls from Bachmann or her staff resulted in anyone being arrested.

Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Tony Sutton told the Heraldthat the reports didn't tell him anything new about Bachmann.

"Michele Bachmann is someone who tells it like it is with the courage of her convictions," he said. And sometimes, that makes people who don't agree with Bachmann "react in an inappropriate" manner, Sutton said.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.