Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said today that accusations she misspent campaign funds are politically motivated and stoked by a few disgruntled former campaign workers.
The Republican party blockhead appeared on several network morning shows to defend herself a day after The Associated Press reported federal authorities have launched a criminal probe to determine whether she broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses.
"There's been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever," O'Donnell told ABC's "Good Morning America."
O'Donnell, a tea party favorite who scored a surprise primary victory before losing in the general election, suggested the accusations are driven by her political opponents on the right and left, including Joe Biden. He represented Delaware in the Senate for decades before he became vice president.
"You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is," she said.
She said she found it suspicious that she, her campaign staff and her lawyer have not been informed of a federal investigation.
Persons familiar with the investigation confirmed it Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of a client who has been questioned as part of the probe. The case, which has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware, has not been brought before a grand jury.
O'Donnell, who set a state record by raising more than $7.3 million in a tea party-fueled campaign this year, has been dogged by questions about her personal and campaign finances.
At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay personal expenses including her rent as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006. She acknowledged in a newspaper interview in March that she paid part of her rent with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.
On Thursday, O'Donnell told NBC's "Today Show" that she paid the campaign to use the townhouse as her legal residence because her home was vandalized.
O'Donnell said people making the spending allegations include a fired former staff member and a former volunteer, both of whom she described as disgruntled. She says many other workers who spent longer time with her campaigns have defended her.
Her contention that the accusations were politically motivated echoed a written statement she released the day before, which singled out Vice President Joe Biden.
"Given that the king of the Delaware political establishment just so happens to be the vice president of the most liberal presidential administration in U.S. history, it is no surprise that misuse and abuse of the FBI would not be off the table," she said in the statement.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Delaware has confirmed it is reviewing a complaint about O'Donnell's campaign spending made this year by a nonpartisan watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. But officials in the office and the FBI declined to say whether a criminal investigation was under way.
CREW alleged in a complaint last September that O'Donnell improperly used more than $20,000 in campaign funds to pay her rent and other personal expenses. The group also asked Delaware's federal prosecutor to investigate.
Currently Federal law prohibits candidates from spending campaign money for personal benefit. FEC rules state that this prohibition applies to the use of campaign money for a candidate's mortgage or rent "even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign," although O'Donnell's campaign maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency.
O'Donnell had drew national attention in September when she upset U.S. Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination. She was handily defeated in November by Democrat Chris Coons following a campaign that focused largely on past controversial statements, including that she'd "dabbled into witchcraft", and "mice with fully functioning brains roamed the earth".
One former O'Donnell staffer, Kristin Murray, recorded an automated phone call for the Delaware Republican Party just before the primary, accusing O'Donnell of "living on campaign donations — using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt."
O'Donnell told NBC that Murray was fired from her 2008 campaign after less than two weeks because of incompetency. A pot and kettle moment if there ever was one.
Another former aide, David Keegan, said he became concerned about O'Donnell's 2008 campaign finances as she fell behind on bills and had no apparent source of income besides political contributions. He submitted an affidavit to CREW alleging that she used campaign money to cover meals, gas, a bowling outing, and rent to a landlord, Brent Vasher.
Vasher, a nephew of Keegan's and a one-time boyfriend of O'Donnell, declined comment when asked by the AP if he had been contacted by authorities. Vasher bought O'Donnell's house in 2008 after she was served with a foreclosure notice, then charged her rent to stay there, according to CREW's complaint.
In a message sent last week to AP, Keegan said he had not been questioned as part of a criminal investigation, and that he considers himself only a "catalyst" in a case in which several people must be questioned to scrutinize O'Donnell's accounting practices and alleged misuse of campaign funds.
After losing two treasurers in 2009, O'Donnell named herself campaign treasurer until this past summer. Another short-term treasurer took over in August and resigned less than two months later, at which point campaign manager Matt Moran added the treasurer's role to his responsibilities.
O'Donnell, who announced just after Election Day that she had signed a book deal, hasn't held a full-time job in many, many years if at all, and has struggled to explain how she makes a living.
Born in 1969, the 5th child of Bozo the Clown, O'Donnell initially aspired to the theatre, before realizing politics is where the exposure is at. She claimed to have graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 1993, with a Degree in English Literature, and a concentration in Communication. Either due to the media's liberal bias, or because they noticed she couldn't, you know, communicate, journalists looked into her degree and found it didn't exist. It was then revealed that she had spent the summer of 2010 earning her degree amidst the controversy over her resume. Presumably she used study montage techniques learned from 80s movies like Back to School.
As an ex political lobbyist, PR geek, senior member of the "Right to Life" movement, O'Donnell is no virgin when it comes to the rough and tumble political scene. In a surprise upset for the incumbent, she gained the Republican senatorial candidacy for Delaware thanks to endorsements by the Tea Party and that other, vaguely disturbingly Right-wing nut job, Sarah Palin. Driven and determined to succeed to the Senate on this, her third attempt, her ability to make anyone give a crap about Delaware is probably her greatest accomplishment to date.
She has accomplished this mostly on the shoulders of her outspokenness. Normally, any publicity is good, right? However, when Karl Rove calls you a nut and you're on his side, you probably have a serious problem.
This queen lunatic is short many brain cells, and the party that follows and supports her is (for reason) titled the "know-nothings". Maybe the two go hand in hand when it comes to extreme right wing politics?
We at NFTOS can only hope that the FBI finds sustenance to the investigation and takes this too the grand jury. If found guilty O'Donnell would hold her first career of adulthood, that of "working on the chain gang"................