Defeated Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, who is reportedly under federal investigation to determine whether she used campaign money for personal expenses, said Thursday the claims come from "disgruntled" former employees, channeled through a "left-wing" watchdog group.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the case has not been sent to a grand jury but has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware.
"Keep in mind," O'Donnell said on CNN Thursday morning, "we upset the Delaware political establishment, and we beat their so-called untouchable incumbent [Rep. Mike Castle]. There's a vendetta to stop this movement. . . . [But] we are going to continue to put the political establishment on notice." The charges are false, she said, noting that the campaign workers making them were fired during an earlier Senate race. She called her accusers "disgruntled 2008 former volunteers." And she denounced Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the organization bringing the complaint, as a "left-wing, George Soros-funded liberal group."
O'Donnell, who was backed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in her unsuccessful campaign this fall against Democrat Chris Coons, echoed those comments on several network morning news programs, including the "Today" show.
On Wednesday, O'Donnell told The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware. ""I don't know if an FBI investigation even exists. If it is happening, of course we're going to cooperate, because we have nothing to hide." And she said on NBC Thursday that it's "very suspicious" that she has yet to be personally notified of any inquiry even though information has been leaked to the Associated Press.
The allegations were first raised against O'Donnell, a tea party favorite, by CREW in a Sept. 30 news release. CREW said it had filed complaints with the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Election Commission against O'Donnell "for using campaign funds for personal living expenses."
O'Donnell shocked political Washington when she upset Rep. Mike Castle in a Republican primary to run for Vice President Joe Biden's old Senate seat. But O'Donnell, plagued by her own miscues, lost the general election to Coons.
O'Donnell raised more than $7.3 million from around the country during her campaign. In her post-election FEC report filed in early December, O'Donnell reported $924,745 on hand with only $2,692 in debts.
In an e-mail, Matt Moran, former O'Donnell campaign manager, said the charge against O'Donnell "was all started by false accusations by Christine's political opponents," citing CREW. And O'Donnell implied that Biden had a hand in the investigation:
"Given that the King of the Delaware Political Establishment just so happens to be the Vice President of the most liberal Presidential administration in U.S. history, it is no surprise that misuse and abuse of the FBI would not be off the table," she said in a statement. O'Donnell told the Today Show a former Biden staffer was involved in framing the CREW complaint against her.
O'Donnell's last tweet was on Dec. 2 when she wrote, "You heard the spin about the 2010 elections. It's time to set the record straight & move forward - signed a book deal w St. Martins Press!" The book will be about her candidacy.
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