Christine O’Donnell Under Criminal Probe For Campaign Spending

Three months after the allegations were first made. the FEC has opened a criminal investigation of Tea Party Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell

Three months after the Delaware GOP and and independent group filed separate complaints, the Federal Election Commission has apparently opened a criminal investigation into Christine O’Donnell’s campaign spending in previous campaigns for U.S. Senate:

A person with knowledge of the investigation says federal authorities have opened a criminal probe of Delaware Republican Christine O’Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of a client who has been questioned in the probe. The case, which has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware, has not been sent to a grand jury.

I first took note of the allegations against O’Donnell before the September 14th Delaware primary when it became apparent that neither the Tea Party Express nor Sarah Palin had bother to vet O’Donnell on the issue prior to endorsing her. It wasn’t until after she defeated Mike Castle, though, that the details of just how fishy her campaign spending in 2006 and 2008 had been came out:

You can read both the letter to the U.S. Attorney, and the Federal Election Commission, but the most serious allegations seem to be two-fold. First, O’Donnell may have been using campaign dollars to pay for personal expenses like rent at her home, a clear violation of campaign finance laws. Second, as these exhibits from an FEC report filed in April 2009 show, O’Donnell was apparently still spending campaign dollars credited to her 2008 Senatorial campaign five months after the 2008 campaign ended. Some of these expenses were for things like gas and office expenses, others were for things like trips to a bowling alley and rent on O’Donnell’s home.

O’Donnell also appears to have violated FEC regulations by not having an independent treasurer for her campaign and appears to have placed her mother on the campaign payroll earlier this year.

Instead of answering questions, O’Donnell dodged them and generally adopted the Sarah Palin/Sharron Angle/Joe Miller strategy of dodging hard questions and only appearing on “friendly” media outlets like Fox News Channel. And her supporters accepted it without question.

O’Donnell is, of course, innocent until found guilty in a court of law and I am not going to presume to pronounce her a crook at this point. However, as I said three months ago:

These are not ridiculous questions about masturbation, or cloning, or witchcraft. These are serious allegations of violations of  campaign finance laws. You’re not supposed to use campaign funds for personal expenses, and I doubt that anyone who contributed to Christine O’Donnell in 2008 did so thinking they’d be helping her pay her rent, or covering her expenses long after the campaign was over.O’Donnell needs to answer these questions now, or she does not deserve to be taken seriously.

The only good thing is that O’Donnell lost the election, otherwise we’d have a newly seated Senator under criminal investigation.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Paul L. says:

    Any chance that this Senator under criminal investigation was covered here?
    FEC orders Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign to pay $219,000

    BTW, if the FEC finds Christine O’Donnell innocent will Doug issue a mea culpa?

    Or will Doug just dismiss it and change the subject like he did with Palin being right about Gawker releasing excerpts?
    “The publishing world is LEAKING out-of-context excerpts of my book w/out my permission? Isn’t that illegal?”

  2. Jack says:

    I wonder how many campaign contributors in general and contributors to the O’Donnell campaign in particular understand the limitations on spending that are in place. I suspect a not insignificant fraction don’t know that the behaviors under investigation are not allowed under the law.

  3. anjin-san says:

    Can’t she just cast some kind of spell and make the investigation go away?

  4. Bleev K says:

    Yeah, politics aren’t for amateurs.

  5. MarkedMan says:

    Paul L, two things:
    1) “My guy is in trouble? Hey, look over at this other guy! They are in trouble too!” – Such talk does not give you a whole lot of credibility.
    2) Criminal. The O’Donnell campaign is reportedly in the midst of a criminal probe. Biden’s were mistakes uncovered in a routine audit. Read the articles.

  6. MichaelW says:
  7. MichaelW says:

    S#it …

  8. MichaelW says:

    Sorry about the unclosed tag …

  9. anjin-san says:

    > The problem with the way the rules are set up is that a candidate can’t really earn any money while running for office

    Ummm. Say what? I personally know more than a few candidates who were earning money while running for office. It’s called having a job.

    Has O’Donnell ever really had a job or supporter herself for any period of time? She is basically a glib, attractive grifter who has chosen politics as her racket.

  10. MichaelW says:

    “Ummm. Say what? I personally know more than a few candidates who were earning money while running for office. It’s called having a job.”

    While running for federal office? Well, that is impressive, but not the norm.

  11. MstrB says:

    Up next the, Christine O’Donnell “I am not a crook” commercial.

  12. narciso says:

    How about wait till there’s a source on the record, before going with this story. We have seen more than a few instances of CREW leaking deceptive details, that never get retracted.

  13. tom p says:

    >>>>”Has O’Donnell ever really had a job or supporter herself for any period of time? She is basically a glib, attractive grifter who has chosen politics as her racket.”<<<<

    Anjin: sounds like every other member of congress (and I do not limit this category to US congress either)

  14. Harry Potter says:

    What the bloody hell is this? I hope she can return to Hogwarts next fall to teach witchcraft again, I had here one year and she was a marvelous teacher, thank god she is a witch and can easily cast a spell to make the investigation disappear .

  15. anjin-san says:

    > Anjin: sounds like every other member of congress

    Well, when Obama was on the hill he was a self-made millionaire.

  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Well, when Obama was on the hill he was a self-made millionaire.*** Not an easy thing to accomplish being a community organizer.

    Did some one say grifter?

    Or Rev. Obama? lolzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………

  17. Christine O”Donnell was a candidate for the 2010 election as early as January 2009. I have the email exchanges with Christine in January 2009. Expenditures in 2009 were legitimate campaign expenses

  18. tom p, are you asking a question or just sounding ignorant?

    If you are actually asking a question, then you can learn the answer. Yes, Christine has worked more than you have. Take a look at:

  19. anjin-san says:


    The speaker described O’Donnell as an “activist”..

    Hmm. A community orginizer is an activist. Guess the right feels activists are all right after all.

    I see she is connected to hate monger Mel Gibson. Why does this not surprise me..

  20. If she’s a crook nail her.

    Now, if we could only get Democrats to adopt the same stance towards their reprobates.