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

O'Donnell camp fights back

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[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/09/17/art.odonnell.file1.odonnell.jpg
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. liberal elite = anyone with an education

    Wow, another play from the Palin playbook! When you're accused of impropriety, lawyer up and counter-sue. You don't have to prove your innocent, just beat your accusers to death with litigation.

    Well done Mini-me, Mama Palin is proud of you.

    September 21, 2010 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  2. 8 Years of having a drunken driver at the wheel put America in the ditch, why would working Americans return the keys to the crowd drinking at the same bar?

    90 minutes???

    I predict this ditz will psycho-babble for 90 seconds and the rest of the time, she will bow her head quietly, ala, Jan Brewer in her sterling debate performance.

    These 2 women are such lightweights that if they did not wear under wire bras they would float away.

    September 21, 2010 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Sick&TiredOfTheGOP

    The most funniest part about this incident is what CNN has left out. The initial complaint was filled by the NRSC in Delaware while odonnell was running aganist castle in the Delaware primary; no one expected her to really win. I guess their intentions were to knock her out of all future races after she lost the Delaware race. Funny how evilness has the boomerang affect, huh? LOL!

    September 21, 2010 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Roscoe

    Of course, she misused the funds. She had rent to pay, food to buy, and a girl's just got to have fun....so, bowling too. I'm sure she took the lead of Sarah who knows how to collect travel money for staying in her own home. She needs to relax and let the whirlpool take her home....and out of the toilet bowl. She's a POS

    September 21, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  5. Djinn

    Watch the "good little witch" make this charge disappear. Why is it that she is getting a pass on breaking laws??

    September 21, 2010 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. 8 Years of "Trickle Down" Economics has only left a wet spot on working America's shoes!

    "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,"

    Then obviously this woman whose day job is running for the Senate and in the off years she lives off the campaign funds provided by others, will have a great lawsuit to slap on CREW.

    This piece of fluff is the "Octomom" of the neo-cons.

    It should be an open and shut case, provide the receipts for the 20K and show where they were spent on true campaigning.

    Obviously, O'Donnell is not afraid of filing lawsuits if she thinks she can make a buck, at least, if CREW is lying this will be money in the bank and it will truly belong to her.

    No wonder the grifter supported her,she went shopping at Neiman's on the RNC credit card, so they are sisters under the hood, oops, I meant sisterhood.

    September 21, 2010 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  7. CaliforniaBC

    O'Donnell's campaign staff are mad that this is getting so much press??? So it's just fine with all the hateful rhetoric and personal attacks on Obama and the Democrats but when it hits these tea party candidates in their backyard it's NOT okay???

    Sorry kids...if you give it out, you sure as hell better be able to take it. The difference here is that there is actually some evidence to examine while the Right's rhetoric has been baseless. Maybe it's time for the Democrats to start libel suits against all this misinformation and lies. How'd that be??

    September 21, 2010 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  8. kat Nanton

    Jessica Yellin asks Chris Kuntz why he thinks Christine O is getting a much harder time about things she said in the past than Chris is for declaring himself a bearded Marxist and being referred to as Harry Reid's "pet". Well, Jessie, you just look in a mirror and there is your answer–You leftist media folks are still playing the "Journolist" game. And the more you knock these people, the more you alienate people like me from the democrats and make me pay no heed to anything CNN has to say.

    September 21, 2010 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. Dieter

    Like a street walker, O'Donnell has no visible means of support. How can you pay half the rent on a condo if you only made $5,800 last year and from that gave her campaign almost have of that! She needs to be asked how she supports herself plain and simple. Have her show some checks when she paid her bills. It's easy, just demand to see some receipts.

    September 21, 2010 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  10. Sandy Hood

    I would really like the media to factcheck things throughly,This tea-party movement scares me..Iv'e been paying close attention to politic's and I believe this movement has been promoted by Fox News,and big business,SCARY if you ask me..citizen's united @work!!

    September 21, 2010 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. WAKE UP

    How does this woman support herself, I wonder. It must have been difficult to live on a little more that $5000 as stated on her Federal tax return.

    September 21, 2010 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. thomas

    Innocent until proven guilty ! Bad way to start a position of trust . She can always get on Dancing with the Stars , even if she;s on probation.

    September 21, 2010 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  13. thank you Tea Party for Snatching Defeat Out Of the Jaws of Certain Victory

    And thank you O'Donnell for a wonderful career as a grifter.

    September 21, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  14. leftislooney

    i know this won't be printed but here goes.....CNN is part of the libel......earlier today cnn posted a "news story" on the ticker titled " o'donnell sidesteps specifics on funds" insinuating that o'donnell was "hiding" something, when in fact, she categorically denied any wrongdoing......then, cnn followed up with "facts" from CREW, the (C)enter for (R)esponsibility and (E)thics in (W)ashington, about o'donnell's financial misadventures..........and cnn had the audacity to label CREW a "NONPARTISAN watchdog group".........when in fact, CREW has attacked conservatives and republicans the vast majority of the time and its director, melanie sloan, is a democratic operative who makes appearances on NPR, olberman and maddow on msnbc.......... SHAME ON YOU CNN......YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE A NEWS ORG...........DO YOUR HOMEWORK.....REPORT THE NEWS......LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE.........the fourth estate has abrogated its duty..........this country is f'd now that the press has chosen sides.......have a nice day

    September 21, 2010 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  15. Marcus

    '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.'

    Apart the name calling, if it's so easy to prove that the accusation is false then do it. Otherwise...

    September 21, 2010 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  16. scott

    Lets not hide behind they knew all along about these allegations and waited till now O'donnell knew she would not win against Biden all along also and if she did run one looooooong campain where is this so called paper trail she is supposed to have for all of her campains?not just what she is accused of i thought the tea party eas for the people by the people not Odonnell for herself i got mine and i get to keep it mentality a four year old can do better than that.

    September 21, 2010 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  17. hap

    Taken directly from Karl Rove 101:
    "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."
    He used this exact tactic to get GWB elected Gov of Tx. by floating a rumor his opponent was under federal investigation, and beat McCain in the primary by insinuating his adoptive daughter was actually his love child with a black woman, in S.C. no less.
    Agree it's not ethical, but....

    September 21, 2010 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Mary Kay Claus

    For the love of God – please make this a nationally telecast debate. If not, pay-per-view. I'd love to see this. Pretty please...

    September 21, 2010 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. barry

    The attacks on O'Donnell is just the Media and liberals trying to skirt the Democrats record. They have nothing to show that made the American Peoples life better so they are trying to run smoke screens. It won't work People are struggling and because of that they are not as easy to buy into the propaganda the Media will. In November the American Voters will give Politicians their report card. If they approve of the Democrats policies and they way they went about them they will have the majority. If they don't think they did well they will no longer be in power. We will see!

    September 21, 2010 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. Republicans is smart in the head area

    O'Donnell is a tool and a fool and deserves to be investigated. Waiting for all the Republicans who said that Breitbart was not guilty of libel/slander to rush to the defense of CREW.

    September 21, 2010 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  21. Dan

    ISince you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. I would think twice about any lawsuit. You really don't want that.

    September 21, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Sofie

    Amazing how they always find a way to put a spin on things. If every thing is appropriate and was done "above board", then let them do an audit. If one has nothing to hide, bring it on.

    September 21, 2010 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. rdepontb

    "Ms. Mitchell represents numerous candidates, campaigns and members of Congress, as well as state and national political party committees. She has served as legal counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee. Ms. Mitchell served as co-counsel for the National Rifle Association in the Supreme Court case involving the 2002 federal campaign finance law."

    Extensive experience defending those who have crossed paths with federal election law. Look it up. Oh what big guns you need, Christine!

    September 21, 2010 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  24. g

    now i know why reagan defunded mental health because he knew it would destroy the republican party

    September 21, 2010 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. trustme

    Sad that these kinds of allegations can be made without proof.....

    September 21, 2010 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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