More on O’Donnell’s Misrepresentation of her Education

More on O'Donnell's representation of her education in her own words.

A commenter to the previous post referred me to a September 2, 2010 interview that Christine O’Donnell did on the Dan Gaffney radio show.  The whole thing is worth a listen, but I was especially intrigued by the discussion of her education.  The audio link is here:  Dan Gaffney Audio: Christine O’Donnell for Senate Interview.

In regards to O’Donnell’s bachelor’s degree Gaffney asks, around the 14 minute mark, as to whether she received her bachelor’s degree from Farleigh Dickinson University or not.  Gaffney asked:  “Have you actually been given that degree?” She said “Yeah” and then there was some cross-talk about Mike Castle.  Then there was the following interchange:

O’Donnell:  It took me over twelve years to pay off my student loans.  From there I went on and I got a constitutional fellowship…a graduate fellowship in constitutional government.  Many people…

Gaffney:  From where?

O’Donnell:  From the Claremont Institute.

(Transcription mine.)

She went on to recount how she did the cap and gown ceremony (presumably in 1993) and was handed a bursar’s bill instead of diploma.  She then stated that she was “awarded my diploma once I paid off my bills.”  She went on to say how, unlike Mike Castle, she wasn’t a millionaire so paying for her education was difficult and so forth.

First, lots of people have student loans and take years to pay them off, and yet are awarded their degrees.  Indeed, that’s what the student loans are for.   In her answer she is conflating money owed to her university with money owed on her student loans.  However, let’s stop and think:  money from student loans go to pay the school and the money owed on loans are owed to a lending institution.  Farleigh Dickinson would not have given her a bill for her student loans on commencement day.

Second, she makes it sound in the interview as if she actually earned her degree back in 1993 but wasn’t allowed to get a diploma because of her student loans.  She lies by omission by not owning up to the fact that she had just recently finished her degree requirement this summer.  To quote from the Politico piece I linked in my earlier post:

Scott Giglio, assistant director of public relations at the Madison, N.J., university, told POLITICO the Tea Party Express-backed Senate hopeful was officially awarded her bachelor of arts degree in English literature on Wednesday.

“She’s gone through the process to receive her degree, that’s not the story. She fulfilled the last course requirement this summer. It was just a general elective course,” said O’Donnell campaign manager Matt Moran.

That would have been Wednesday September 1, 2010—the day before her interview with Gaffney.  I can’t for a minute believe that she was unaware of this fact when asked the question.

Along those lines, she is claiming it took her twelve years to pay off her loans, but ignores the fact that she was awarded the degree 17 years after the alleged cap and gown/bursars bill event.  As such, the focus on student loans and the twelve year timeframe related to them utterly avoid the real issue of when and how she received her degree.

Third, the reference to “a graduate fellowship in constitutional government” is highly misleading at best.  Why?  Because the Claremont Institute is not an institution of higher learning, it is a think tank.  The term “graduate fellowship” is generally associated with actual graduate study, not being a fellow at a think tank.  Now, being a think tank fellow would be a decent resume line, one would think, but making it sound like graduate study is dishonest and actually add fuel to the fire about the LinkedIn profile allegations I noted earlier today.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Taylor, if O’Donnell does not win the election Coons will be the Senator from Delaware. What do you know about him? Did you know the resume referred to was posted by someone other than Christine O’Donnell? You ever visit real blog sites like Patterico? You really want a bearded Marxist for Senator? If so, why?

  2. john personna says:

    Heh, trying it in this thread too, eh Zels?

    What’s that old lawyer’s advice: “When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, pound on the table.”

    … pound the table and say “Marxist”

  3. Alex Knapp says:

    You ever visit real blog sites like Patterico?

    But he quoted from… and linked to…

    Oh, forget it.

  4. Chris Lynch says:

    Part of the interview with Gaffney, youtube. Amazing really.

  5. madawaskan says:

    Ugh, I remembered that and forgot it…I really can’t get past that first three minutes.

    I think the only thing to do is beat Boxer by proxy or somethin’.

    We coulda shoulda had a great air game going with Chris Matthews tearing up as Biden’s seat went down in flames.

    Then the ground guys coulda rallied the troops to get to the polls in the later time zones-you know the basic herd mentality. OVercome that margin of fraud in the close ones.

    Everyone loves a winner!

    Instead. we . got. this. B.S.

    Maybe get McMahon going in Connecticut. Try to get the mo’ back.



    Is Palin going to help her RINO killer? Get her across the finish line?

    Romney? How about him. He called support of O’Donnell the *litmus test*.

    So come on Romney and Palin get over to Delaware and back that shit up!

    Basically it was a *litmus test* all right but not for what they think it was.

    It’s either;

    A) You don’t do your damn homework.


    B) You lack scruples.

    Good one.

  6. mantis says:

    O’Donnell has failed to file tax returns for her nonprofit, SALT, for the three years as well. I’m sure that’s someone else’s fault, too. Maybe the phantom LinkedIn profile maker!

  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    John, you do not know the difference between Politico, which has ties to what was the JournoList, and Patterico? If you get all your political info from DK, the Huffington Post and OTB, you certainly will not be lead down a path. Not.

  8. mantis says:


    Steven linked to Patterico in the post just before this one, which you commented on multiple times. Moron.

  9. I agree. O’Donnell’s a lousy candidate. Reminds me of an Alabama gubenatorial race where the Republicans didn’t have a chance in Hades, so who really gave a damn that Guy Hunt was the nominee. And then the corruption scandals broke against Bill Baxley and the Democrats self-immolated, leaving Guy Hunt as the Governor. Guy Frickin’ Hunt. And the really weird part is he even got reelected — before he became a convicted felon and had to resign. Of course this is from the same state that had Lurleen Wallce pull a Putin for her husband George long before Putin ever even earned his KGB merit badges, but I digress.

    Say, any chance you can find out anything about Obama’s educational records or accomplishments? Anything? Anything at all?

  10. An Interested Party says:

    Hey Zels, why shouldn’t Delaware have a Marxist senator, after all, the country already has a Marxist president…can you see that from your porch?

    “Say, any chance you can find out anything about Obama’s educational records or accomplishments? Anything? Anything at all?”

    Yeah, like maybe he lied about where he went to school, just like she’s done…

  11. Nightrider says:

    Oh, if only her lying about college or not paying her taxes ranked among the top five reasons not to vote for her . . .