The aide who helped turn Rep. Michele Bachmann into a controversial mainstay of cable news has informed colleagues that she’s quitting — just as the firebrand Republican congresswoman prepares for her biggest media moment yet.
Multiple sources have confirmed that Michelle Marston, a veteran Hill aide, is leaving Bachmann’s office.
In an e-mail exchange with POLITICO, Marston declined to say why she’s going.
“I’m just not talking about it, and frankly I don’t think there’s a story here,” Marston wrote. “Now, the thousands of people calling our office to tell us [they’re] coming to Capitol Hill tomorrow — that’s a story.”
Marston was referring to the prolific Bachmann’s latest political brainstorm, a “house call” on the Capitol Thursday to which she’s invited Fox News viewers and other conservatives to march with her through House office buildings, “find members of Congress, look at the whites of their eyes and say, ‘Don’t take away my health care.’”
The idea was hatched by Bachmann and a small clutch of allies at the member level, and aides say that the response to it has been so overwhelming that the conservative Republican Study Committee has been tapped to help with the arrangements for the event on the West Front of the Capitol.
The image of travel-ready conservatives flooding the hallways of the Capitol complex to confront members of Congress may not be one that Republican leaders are too keen to project.
A conservative Republican House member, speaking on the condition of anonymity, suggested that Bachmann’s views — and her willingness to state them — make it hard for her to keep staff.
“When your captain’s crazy, it’s time to find a new ship,” the lawmaker said.
Marston replaced Bachmann’s former chief of staff, Rich Dunn, last February. She beefed up Bachmann’s outreach operations with the aim of getting her out in the public eye more often.
“She looks like the type of person who you would invite in to have a cup of coffee at your table,” Marston said at the time. “There are a lot of people who are good, smart, well-meaning, well-intentioned members of Congress, but they speak to the people like they are members of Congress. Rep. Bachmann talks to people like they are people.”
But when Bachmann infuriated liberals with the suggestion that then-Sen. Barack Obama and other Democrats in Congress held “anti-American” views, Marston acknowledged that her boss wasn’t for everyone.
“You either love Michele Bachmann or you don’t love Michele Bachmann at all,” Marston said in an interview with POLITICO last fall.