Tea Party candidate: Questions about my personal, public finances insult voters

By Ron Brynaert
Tuesday, September 14, 2010 11:58 EDT
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Claims she made more than she reported to IRS last year but it’s no one’s business

She may not be a multi-millionaire, and she may have earned more than the paltry $5,800 she reported to the IRS last year, but Christine O’Donnell is no dummy. Taking lessons from former Alaska governor Sarah Palin — whose endorsement made her a contender to begin with — a conservative office-seeker is employing the “attack the messenger” defense to combat concerns about her private and public financing.

“A Tea Party-backed candidate in today’s Delaware Republican primary for Senate said today that ads attacking her personal financial history are an insult to voters, and said recent polling showing her running strong against the candidate backed by GOP leaders suggests voters are ‘fighting back,’ David S. Morgan reports for Political Hotsheet at CBS News.

Huliq News notes, “After Delaware GOP Congressional candidate Christine O’Donnell was accused of not paying college debts and illegal campaign fundraising, she retorted on CBS’s ‘The Early Show,’ with ‘I’m an average hard-working American. I’m not a multi-millionaire like my opponent.’”

The Political Hotsheet article adds that “there’s been increased scrutiny of O’Donnell’s personal financial history, which her opponents say precludes her from effectively overseeing public finances, and complaints about alleged illegal campaign fundraising.”

Attack ads claim O’Donnell didn’t receive her college degree for 12 years because of what she owed in outstanding bills to the school, and question unpaid campaign debts from her previous runs for office.

A complaint was also lodged with the Federal Election Commission against O’Donnell, her campaign organization and the Tea Party Express over alleged illegal fundraising activities.

There was also a financial disclosure form which reveals she declared her earned income between March 2009 and June 2010 was only $5,800. And attack ads have said O’Donnell received a tax lien from the IRS.

But O’Donnell told CBS that she “absolutely” could be trusted with the office she is speaking, despite the myriad financial issues.

“All of those accusations are addressed on my website, christine2010.com. And when the question of financial responsibility comes into question, you have to look at how I handled those financial difficulties.

I’m an average hard-working American. I’m not a multi-millionaire like my opponent. Of course in this economy I’ve fallen on hard times. But I worked hard. I sacrificed. I made the decision that I needed to make things right. I came through to the other side in a very strong position. I made it through the difficult times. That’s what the voters are seeing. Financial responsibility is making your obligations right.

My opponent has cashed a government paycheck, a taxpayer-funded government paycheck for over four decades. So when he makes those accusations that that’s irresponsible because someone has struggled, he’s insulting the voters. And I think that’s where the backlash has come from. And that’s why so many former people who once supported my opponent are now on my side. Because of this obnoxious sense of entitlement that this position should be handed to the next anointed king.

Another CBS News report indicates that many believe that even if she wins the primary, her campaign is doomed.

Freedom Works, a conservative group which backed a number of Tea Party candidates, has not given O’Donnell its support, saying that they see her as a weak candidate whom they don’t believe can win in a general election.

“If Christine O’Donnell wins the primary election, she’s going to have a very difficult time winning in what is still a very blue, very Democratic state,” said Reid Wilson, editor in chief of The Hotline.


The state GOP’s website (which refers to O’Donnell as a “perennial candidate”) called on her to address a complaint to the FEC that O’Donnell, her campaign and the Tea Party Express broken campaign fundraising laws, and reposted an article from the Weekly Standard about a $6.9 million gender bias suit O’Donnell brought against her former employer, a conservative non-profit.

The Huliq News story adds,

CNN reported that O’Donnell’s campaign manager, Matt Moran, accused Republican stalwarts Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes of “trying to undermine” O’Donnell after Palin endorsed him.

Kristol told CNN that he knows and respects Sarah Palin, “but with all due respect-Christine O’Donnell is no Sarah Palin.”

By that Kristol likely meant that O”Donnell, a former marketing consultant, lacks governing experience and has never been elected to office.

On Sunday, a Weekly Standard reporter claimed that O’Donnell told him two weeks ago that she actually earned more than she reported in 2008-2009.

John McCormack wrote, “According to her financial disclosure form, O’Donnell only made $5,800 last year. ‘I made more than $5,800,’ O’Donnell told me in the September 2 interview, but said she did not have to and would not disclose how much.”

From the September 2 McCormack article:

Asked about a financial disclosure showing that O’Donnell only had $5,800 of earned income last year, O’Donnell told me that she actually made more but didn’t have to and wouldn’t disclose how much. “The only thing they can use against me is that I’m not a multi-millionaire,” said O’Donnell.

Last week, the National Review’s Jim Geraghty complained,

I am remarkably curious as to how she lived on an income of $5,800 in 2009. If she had additional income, she lied on her financial-disclosure forms and has violated the law. I need a response better than, “Well, Biden did it, too.”

I hear a few “who cares?” responses. Fine, you don’t care. But I do, and I suspect more than a few Delaware voters will care, too. In the end, the primary election will turn on what Delaware Republicans care about.

RAW STORY reported last week,

O’Donnell, who is backed by the Tea Party Express, is running in next week’s Delaware Senate primary against Rep. Mike Castle. Castle, a former governor, has been winning elections in Delaware by large margins since 1966, and in any normal year his victory would be assured. But this year, nothing can be taken for granted.

O’Donnell’s views appear to be particularly extreme, even by Tea Party standards. In 1998, she told an MTV interviewer that masturbation is the same as adultery because “the Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery. So you can’t masturbate without lust.”

In an article written about the same time, the fiercely Catholic O’Donnell declared, “When a married person uses pornography, or is unfaithful, it compromises not just his (or her) purity, but also compromises the spouse’s purity. As a church, we need to teach a higher standard than abstinence.”

This video is from CBS’ The Early Show, broadcast Sept. 14, 2010

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