Charges by the US attorney against former Delaware Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell, a Republican and Tea Party favorite, of alleged illegal use of campaign funds are unfounded and an attempt to quash the Tea Party movement, O’Donnell told CNBC Thursday.
“The reason why I have to continue fighting this is the message that they're trying to say is, if you challenge the system, you’re going to be attacked with these kinds of phony investigations,” said O’Donnell, who denies specifically that she used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, such as rent, gas and meals. O'Donnell lost the election. The Associated Press reported the story about an investigation on Wednesday.
“I’m here to say, ‘Don’t let that scare you off,’ “ she added.
O’Donnell originally said that people with ties to Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, were behind the accusations, but on Thursday she talked about some of her own former staff members, including one staffer her campaign fired in 2008, as a source of the complaints.
She said the complaint is a “re-emergence of the same CREW (Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington), [funded by financier George Soros, according to O’Donnell] that was filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) several months ago.”
O’Donnell said that neither she nor her representatives had been notified by the US attorney’s office or any other, except for the FEC. She said that she and her representatives are meeting with their FEC-compliance firm on Friday to conduct a year-end review of campaign expenses and discuss the situation.
She added that these charges are similar to what happened post-election two years ago to GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who campaigned for O’Donnell this year.
After John McCain and Palin lost the election to President Obama, Palin was questioned on her use of campaign funds, particularly in relation to the costs of wardrobe for her and her family.
“They [opponents] did the same thing to Sarah Palin,” said O’Donnell. “It doesn’t matter if six months from now, I’m cleared. They’re hoping that the damage is done simply by launching the investigations, and then in the court of public opinion, people aren't going to be paying attention.”