Tea Party Candidate Christine O'Donnell Sued Conservative Group for Gender Bias


Matt Lewis

News that the Tea Party Express (the same group that helped fuel Sharron Angle's and Joe Miller's upsets in Nevada and Alaska, respectively) had pledged to financially support Delaware conservative Christine O'Donnell's primary campaign against Republican Rep. Mike Castle spawned speculation she might be "the next Tea Party surprise."

But since that time, things have gotten a bit rocky. Castle, a moderate who previously tried to ignore O'Donnell, has ratcheted up his attacks on her personal finances, launching a "RealChristine.com" website. (The Tea Party Express was apparently not aware of her financial problems when it endorsed her.)

The campaign then took an even more bizarre turn, when a firm recently employed by O'Donnell accused Castle of having a gay affair.

This accusation reminded me that O'Donnell had previously made her own accusation, accusing The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a conservative organization, of "gender discrimination."

As Ginger Gibson of the Wilmington News Observer reported back in March:

O'Donnell was fired by ISI on Feb. 26, 2004, after she complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that she was the victim of gender discrimination, according to court filings. O'Donnell sued ISI in U.S. District Court in 2005, alleging she was fired in retaliation for complaining to the EEOC. In her suit, O'Donnell sought back pay, future pay and punitive damages.

ISI countered that O'Donnell was running a for-profit public-relations business while on the clock.

In January 2008, O'Donnell dropped the lawsuit against ISI, saying at the time she could no longer afford an attorney.

Established in 1953, ISI was founded to encourage the "values and institutions that sustain a free and virtuous society." William F. Buckley was the group's first president.

O'Donnell's history with ISI has not become a major story in the way that her personal finances have. But one wonders how many conservative voters would be surprised to learn the Tea Party candidate in Delaware sued a conservative group for gender discrimination.