The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is trying to keep the pressure on Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, penning an op-ed in a Delaware newspaper Wednesday detailing the federal election complaint the group filed against the candidate.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan repeated the group's allegation, originally made in a federal election complaint earlier this month, that O'Donnell spent "tens of thousands of dollars from her campaign to finance her personal life."
Writing in the Delaware News Journal, Sloan defended her organization from charges that it has a partisan agenda and hit back at O'Donnell lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who has threatened to sue the group, according to Sloan.
If Ms. O'Donnell were to sue CREW for libel, the court would allow us to prove we had told the truth. We would be granted the right to depose witnesses under oath, including not just former campaign staffers such as Mr. Keegan and Ms. Murray, as well as Ms. O'Donnell's four former campaign treasurers, but also Ms. O'Donnell herself. We would have the chance to ask detailed questions about how Ms. O'Donnell supported herself on just $5,800, and we could question and demand records and receipts for each so-called campaign expenditure. And of course, CREW would be free to make all of that information public.
No lawyer, not even one as poorly versed in libel law as Ms. Mitchell appears to be, would put her aspiring political candidate through that. So a lawsuit is probably not forthcoming.
Ms. Mitchell also has stated that Ms. O'Donnell will go back and "correct" FEC forms that might have "mistakenly" listed expenses incorrectly. Further, Ms. Mitchell has suggested Ms. O'Donnell will retroactively take a salary from the campaign, which would make the rent payments permissible. If this sounds legally dubious, that's because it is.
While candidates legally can collect a salary from their campaign, they can't do so retroactively. Just like a bank robber can't go back in time and claim the stolen money was actually a "security consulting fee," Ms. O'Donnell can't turn back the clock either.
Ms. O'Donnell would prefer Delawareans focus not on her actions, but on CREW's motives. First, CREW is a nonpartisan organization with a long record of taking on unethical politicians regardless of party affiliation. But more important, Christine O'Donnell is running to serve the people of Delaware as their elected representative in the United States Senate -- a position that demands integrity and honesty.
Sadly, Ms. O'Donnell has demonstrated neither.
Last week, Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) suggested that CREW's complaint may have been purposely timed for after his GOP primary with O'Donnell in an attempt to aid Democrat Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenators: US allies concerned Senate won't pass annual defense bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay Can America prevent a global warming cold war? MORE.
"Are they just trying to help the Democrat get elected, and did they hold it because the Republican who, by opinion polls, etc., would be more likely to win would have been benefited if they filed it before?" Castle said in an interview with the News Journal.
Castle is still mulling a write-in bid this fall. He has until Thursday to make a decision.