September 21st, 2010
07:22 PM ET
12 years ago

O'Donnell camp fights back


[cnn-photo-caption image=
caption="Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell's campaign addresses critics."]

WILMINGTON, Delaware (CNN) - Christine O'Donnell's Senate campaign is pushing back hard on allegations that she misused election funds by putting them to private use. Leading the counter-offensive is Cleta Mitchell, an attorney and an expert in campaign finance law, who was just retained by the O'Donnell campaign to deal with the allegations.

In an interview with CNN, Mitchell responded to a complaint against O'Donnell filed this week by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. The group, known as CREW, accuses O'Donnell of spending roughly $20,000 from her failed 2008 campaign for the Senate for personal expenses.

"That is not true," Mitchell told CNN. She accused CREW and its executive director, Melanie Sloan, of libeling O'Donnell and said the campaign is considering a lawsuit against the group.

"She has committed libel per se, slander per se by calling my client names... I've looked at lots of campaign FEC (Federal Election Commission) reports. And the things she (Sloan) is saying are simply not true," Mitchell said in the interview.

Sloan has called O'Donnell "a criminal" and "a crook," in accusing the candidate of tax evasion and a host of other financial improprieties.

Central to the allegations are claims that O'Donnell used 2008 campaign money to pay rent, to buy food and gasoline and even for a bowling outing. CREW says those expenditures occurred in 2009 and early 2010 when, the group says, O'Donnell had no active campaign.

"She did have a campaign because she had gone from running in 2008 to running in 2010," Mitchell told CNN Tuesday. "She was already running... she moved from one campaign to another and frankly the campaign headquarters was in her home - that's not unusual."

For her part, Sloan denies allegations her group is politically biased and says it is acting on information provided to it by a former O'Donnell campaign official.

"We've added up what we think is over $20,000 in expenses that were improper, that were money she used - campaign funds put to personal use. But it's really hard to say, because there's been no audit of her campaign. The fact is, once you start seeing this trend … the odds are there are many more expenses that we don't know about," Sloan told CNN in an interview.

Campaign officials are upset that the CREW complaint is getting so much press.

"You see, what the problem with Melanie Sloan and FEC complaints is you get to make big headlines, with lots of allegations and two or three years later, when they're dismissed as being baseless, there's no press. And so Melanie Sloan waited until Christine O'Donnell won the Republican nomination and less than a week later files a complaint that she's obviously had for a long time, just ready to go," Mitchell said.

Filed under: 2010 • Christine O'Donnell
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. T'SAH from Virginia

    OH – I get it – O'Donnell is a "Professional Runner" – that's it!!! You also have "Professional Students" who go to school of of their life and lives off of student loans and grants!!!

    O'Donnell runs campaign after campaign – knowing she cannot win!!! That would give her a steady income and 'bail her out' from losing her home.... Dang, I should try that!! I will RUN for any office and ask for funds to do so!!!

    There may be no truth to this because O'Donnell is going to use the fact that she ran her campaign from her home (sounds familiar – working from home and still billing tax payers... give up.... AK... a home where is in eye view of Russia... YOU GOT IT!!!)

    DEmocrats in DE – Please get out there and VOTE and keep O'Donnell OUT OF OFFICE!!!!

    T'SAH from Virginia – the Original – and I approve this message!!

    September 21, 2010 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. they call me "tater salad"

    If you're not guilty of anything than why do you feel the need to rush out suddenly and hire the best in the business at dealing with these kinds of corrupt issues to convince all of your blind sheep followers that what you did wasn't "technically" a crime per se but more of a "misinterpretation" by your evil and socialist liberal accusers, of the way the law in question, is actually "written" or "worded"????? Any of you political armchair experts at excuses and Tuesday morning quarterbacks on the racist right care to address that one???

    September 21, 2010 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  3. The reality is...

    "Sloan denies allegations her group is politically biased "

    One doesn't have to search too long to find out this is a false statement. Sloan and her CREW cronies are obviously very liberal and partisan. Check them out, folks, and see for yourselves

    September 21, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. Marie MD

    Of course there are no records of those expenses. This is a 41 year old woman whose financial life is a complete mess. She then turns around and dares to speak about financial responsibility?
    Just like her idol – she wants to tell everyone what to do and how to do it but she can't keep her daughter from getting pregnant and becoming a high school dropout.
    Once again, all talk but they are the worst examples of living well without any garbage.

    September 21, 2010 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. they call me "tater salad"

    ...............Yeah!............Didn't think so.

    September 21, 2010 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  6. ABM

    Face the are just as corrupt as every other pol and your idol Mrs. Post-it.

    September 21, 2010 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    I gues she's not the "outsider" she claims to be. i'm not saying she's guilty- i don;t know. But, she is denying rather than just showing in the records where the expenses are valid.
    Once she proves she has not broken laws, then we can look into the ethics of all this. Had she filed for the 2010 campaign in 2009 after her 2008 effort failed? Are camapign funds given for perosnal yse in the first place or are they to be used for promoting your message to voters?
    Yep- just another would-be politican in Tea Party clothing.

    September 21, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  8. Clwyd

    So what about her $11,000+ of unpaid taxes until she decided to run for office and felt the need to pay them? She can't run her own life let along government!

    September 21, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  9. jim

    So Chris Coons has to resort to negative personal attacks on O'Donnell.How, about talking about issues and let the people of Delaware decide if they want you or her to represent them. You've already said at your website that you support cap and trade legislation. Do you realize the number of jobs that would cost?If you were already a Sen. you would've voted for Obama stimulus plan, tarp, and the misdirected healthcare plan that doesn't reduce cost like the way it was sold.At least with Christine we will have someone that is willing to take away the credit card from Obama with all the spending that he's leaving to our children.She won't be just another Harry Reid's pet.

    September 21, 2010 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  10. Pres. Obama

    The fact that posters are focused on her person and not the issues is telling

    September 21, 2010 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
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