Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced late Tuesday night, in a recorded video spot, that she will not be seeking reelection in 2014. Bachmann, a Tea Party standard-bearer, has been under Congressional investigation for misuse of funds during her failed 2012 presidential bid, but insisted in her video, “This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into my former presidential campaign… compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign, and I have no reason to believe that that was not the case.”
“The law limits anyone from serving as president of the United States for more than eight years,” Bachmann added, in a clear effort to appeal to her nationwide Tea Party following.
Bachmann leaves behind one of the most politically heated Congressional careers in recent memory. Her stances on major issues — and the initiatives she has pushed throughout her eight years — have been dangerous and insensitive. Here is a look back at some of Bachmann’s most controversial moments:
1. Bachmann peddled a dangerous anti-vaccine conspiracy. Bachmann pushed the disproved theory that the vaccine for HPV — which prevents cervical cancer — can cause mental retardation. That misinformation has had a wide and lasting impact: Vaccination rates are still remarkably low, and experts blame figureheads like Bachmann who communicated misleading information to the public.
2. Bachmann called being gay ‘personal enslavement.’ On the issue of LGBT rights, Bachmann has a long record of either mocking gay and trans (like when she said she’d mistaken ex-gay therapy for anti-aging therapy, ‘pray away the grey‘). But when she isn’t mocking sexual orientation, she has treated it more like a mental disorder. Famously, Bachmann once said, “It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan, I think, to say this is gay. It’s anything but gay. […] Because if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. Personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement. And that’s why this is so dangerous.”
3. Bachmann considers climate climate change ‘a hoax.’ While experts warn that global climate change is already set to have a lasting impact on our environment, Bachmann calls climate change “all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” She also cast doubt on the entire field of climate science. At a town hall in her district, Bachmann informed constituents that climate science is not “real science” but “manufactured science.”
4. Bachmann led an Islamophobic witch hunt. Last year, Bachmann sought to “expose” members of the Muslim Brotherhood within the U.S. government. The totally unfounded witch hunt was essentially Bachmann’s personal indictment of one of then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s aides, Huma Abedin, but it also served to fuel anti-Muslim bigotry. Bachmann’s fellow party members came out against her, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) slamming her on the Senate floor for her “unwarranted and unfounded attack.”
5. Bachmann claimed Obamacare would ‘literally’ kill people. In a screed against Obamacare on the House floor, Bachmann warned that the law “literally kills women, kills children, kills senior citizens.” She also questioned, in an interview with a fringe website that peddles conspiracy theories, whether Obamacare would allow the IRS to “deny or delay access to health care” for conservatives.
6. Bachmann told the American people that Iran had plans to nuke the U.S. During a presidential debate on the issue of national security, Bachmann falsely claimed that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had laid out plans to bomb the United States with a nuclear weapon.
7. Bachmann called on the American media to investigate ‘anti-American’ politicians. Bachmann’s first witch hunt of her career was against her own colleagues in Congress. In 2008, Bachmann told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that she hoped the media would investigate Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). “I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress,” she said, “and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America?”
8. Bachmann wanted to ban all porn. As part of her crusade for conservative values, Bachmann has pushed to ban “all forms of pornography.” This is actually contradictory to the Tea Party’s focus on the constitution, given the fact that pornography clearly falls within First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
There’s no definitive word yet on what Bachmann will do next, but she closed out her video announcement with a promise to remain involved in politics. “Looking forward, after the completion of my term, my future is full, it is limitless, and my passions for America will remain,” she said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said that, while in Congress, Bachmann called for the repeal of the minimum wage to create job growth. She did say that — but in 2005, before she was elected to the House of Representatives.