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Bachmann’s NH Team: We didn’t want to leave

The departing members of Rep. Michele Bachmann's campaign operation in New Hampshire pushed back on attempts by the national team to discredit reports the entire staff had left.

"The NH Team didn't want to leave the campaign, but it should be clear the entire NH team has departed," they wrote in a joint statement issued Monday to members of the news media.

Jeff Chidester, Bachmann's former New Hampshire campaign manager, Nicole Yurek, Mattheu LeDuc, Caroline Gigler, and Tom Lukacz were the five members of Bachmann's team in New Hampshire who authored the joint statement.

On Friday, responding to reports the New Hampshire office had departed en masse, Bachmann spokesperson Alice Stewart told Fox News the campaign did not have actual full-time staff in the state; rather, she said, the campaign has had weekly contracts with 6-10 individuals during Bachmann's visits to the Granite State.

The New Hampshire team called such characterization of their employment as, "dishonest and belittling, but indicative of the larger problems that led to Team-NH's departure."

The five departing members said in their statement that they were "full-time contract employees until September 11, 2011, when they were asked by the national team to temporarily 'go off payroll,' possibly until the middle of October (2011), due to financial concerns within the campaign." But they also emphasized NH campaign manager Chidester voluntarily took himself off the payroll for the remainder of the campaign to help them financially, and the staff continued to be part of Bachmann's NH operation, asked to work again when the congresswoman visited the state in October.

"Team-NH would like to stress that pay was not a primary motivation, and that each member was committed to the candidate and her principals. Team-NH regarded themselves as a team ready and willing to help Congresswoman Bachmann win New Hampshire. Sadly, they were deceived, constantly left out of the loop regarding key decisions, and relegated to second-class citizens within a campaign in which they were the original members."

The problems, the departing members allege, began in June, the month that Bachmann announced that she was throwing her hat in the race.

"Team-NH was never involved in the shifting strategy discussions. Team members were repeatedly ignored regarding simple requests, sometimes going weeks with little or no contact with the national team. Yet the members of Team-NH remained committed to Congressman Bachmann, often at peril to their own personal and professional reputations within New Hampshire. "

The members made clear their ill-will was directed towards their "poor relationship with the national team," and not towards candidate Bachmann.

"The manner in which some in the national team conducted themselves towards Team-NH was rude, unprofessional, dishonest, and at times cruel. But more concerning was how abrasive, discourteous, and dismissive some within the national team were towards many New Hampshire citizens," they wrote. "These are our neighbors and our friends, and some within the national team treated them more as a nuisance than as potential supporters."

In the statement, they concluded, "Sadly, all of this could have been avoided. It saddens this team to see a dedicated patriot - a person so desperately needed in the White House - sequestered behind a wall of pretense, guarded by political operatives consumed by their own egos."

"It is distressing that the motives of the members of Team-NH who are now departing the campaign are being questioned. Team-NH has always been dedicated to Congresswoman Bachmann. They've worked very hard over the past several months to ensure her success in NH. We wish her well and will continue to work toward our shared goal of making President Obama a one-term president."

The Bachmann campaign declined to respond directly to the release put forth by the New Hampshire team.

"The unauthorized news release was sent by a person who doesn't even work for the campaign and has never had authority to speak on behalf of the campaign," national campaign manager Keith Nahigian said in a statement. "We are not responding to comments made by a person who was not even a staff member in New Hampshire. Our focus is on Iowa."

Karen Testerman, who issued the statement on behalf of the departing New Hampshire staff, was a "senior advisor" to the New Hampshire team but was not on the payroll of the Bachmann campaign.  

Bachmann's national office issued a press release Monday, out of Urbandale, IA, saying they had added James Pollack as National Finance Chairman.

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