Here’s an email I received discussing some problems with Christine O’Donnell’s campaign for US Senate. It’s been causing a stir on local talk radio.
Who is Christine O’Donnell–She wants to be our Senator?
by Judson Bennett
The Delaware Republican Party’s 2008 candidate for US Senate, Christine O’Donnell, who narrowly won the nomination (endorsement) in the May convention over Conservative Tim Smith from Seaford, is again actively seeking the Senate seat in the 2010 election. I was a Delegate to that convention and I remember Sussex Councilman Vance Philips’ passionate endorsement of O’Donnell–saying “we needed a female candidate for Biden’s seat.” His speech is what really tipped the balance for O’Donnell. Indeed she now wants another crack at victory, but her field is no longer clear. She will have to primary Congressman Mike Castle who has declared his candidacy and who will most likely win the endorsement at the May convention.
There is no doubt that this charismatic, attractive, articulate woman is indeed the darling of the conservative, right wing of the Republican Party. There is no love lost with this group when it comes to talking about Congressman Mike Castle, who they claim is really a Republican in name only (a RINO), and his vote for Cap & Trade was one of several straws that have clearly “broken the camel’s back”. O’Donnell’s social conservative views, especially on abortion, and her fervent support of traditional family values are appealing to many. She is well versed on all the issues including economics, foreign affairs, and national security. All seemed to be going well for her—that is until just recently?
So –what’s the rub? The deal is this. There is a large group of decent, hard working conservative folks who are buying into Ms. O’Donnell with their faith and their dollars. As per some reliable insider sources, a split in the Delaware Republican Party could cost Castle the election and give it to a Democrat–especially in light of the fact that Delaware now has over 100,000 more registered Dems than Repubs. Even with Beau Biden dropping out of the race, there are concerns that O’Donnell could not win and Castle could. The stakes are very high, according to some, especially with the potential of Republicans taking back both houses of Congress by 2012.
The question raised by many concerned Republicans——Is Christine O’Donnell really the person the conservative right thinks she is or is she merely a disorganized, but articulate charleton?? Indeed she could very well be everything many folks hope for, but her proclaimed values and integrity are part of her appeal and possibly need to be reconfirmed in light of some recent information put forth by those in opposition to her candidacy. Not only efficiency, but impeccable honesty are paramount for someone to be recognized and considered as a candidate for the United States Senate. I think everyone would agree with that premise.
I’m looking at copies of some campaign finance reports and copies of letters to Ms. O’Donnell from the Federal Election Commission that were recently delivered to my home. In a letter dated July 31, 2009 to Ms. O’Donnell–” It has come to the attention of the Federal Election Commission that you may have failed to file the above referenced report of receipts and expenditures as required by the Federal Election Campaign Act, as Amended.” This was referenced as the July quarterly report–4/1/2009—6/30/2009. An identical letter was sent to her dated October 30, 2009 referencing the October Quarterly report 7/1/2009–9/302009.
Another letter from the Federal Election Commission dated March 12, 2009 which stated: “It has come to the attention of the Commission that your Treasurer for Friends of Christine O’Donnell has resigned and the Commission has received no information regarding a new treasurer. A treasurer must be appointed within 10 days of the resignation of the previous treasurer (11CFR& 102.2(a)(2).” Another identical letter to this one was mailed on September 9, 2009. So much for requirements concerning Campaign Receipts and Disbursements and Treasurer replacements in the O’Donnell campaign. It appears that this all could still be pending?
In examining an earlier report covering the period of 1/1/09 to 3/31/09 it appears that debts and obligations owed by the committee totaled $24,298.64. During that period Ms. O’Donnell received contributions totaling $7,215. What is remarkable throughout the report is the consistent pattern of reimbursement to herself for meals, gasoline purchases, small amounts here and there, as if she might be living off of the campaign contributions. Cell phone reimbursements, an unusual $475.20 reimbursement for mileage and an expense reimbursement to a Brent Vosher (a former boyfriend) in the amount of $750 who owns the house where she was living–a house she once owned. Could that be a rent check? Another expenditure is a payment to Delmarva Power for her electric bill in the amount of $600. Another mileage reimbursement in the amount of $60. Then a $200 check to herself simply labeled– fundraising expense?
To add to her potential woes, Christine O’Donnell has an apparent problem with the Delaware Republican Committee brought about by its October 9th Vicmead event which is the Delaware GOP’s annual primary fundraiser. The Delaware Republican leadership throughout the state is in an uproar over this one. This is the story as presented to me from those in charge: ” After ordering two tickets at $175 a piece for the Vicmead event, apparently the credit card number Ms. O’Donnell gave to the Committee was declined for the purchase. According to my reliable sources, “she was told she could settle the account at the door. However , instead of doing exactly that, Ms. O’Donnell and friend somehow avoided the main entrance and entered from another area– they ate the food, net-worked the event and then left. She was e-mailed and messages left on her phone by the Delaware GOP and asked to pay the amount due ($350)”–all this information came directly from GOP headquarters. “It is now late January, 2010- well over four months after the event and the Delaware Republican Committee has still not been paid”–said Chairman Tom Ross.
Based on all of this–Christine O’Donnell— the bastion of moral integrity and honesty, has indeed been questioned. Is the Vicmead fiasco, that’s got all the Delaware GOP insiders upset and rolling their eyes, merely a miscomunication and an unfortunate oversight ? Are the documented campaign finance irregularities significant or no big deal?
When I learned of all this, as a political pundit and writer, I felt there were certainly some questions that needed to be answered? I am no longer a Republican(RD) Chairman, a Delegate, a Committeeman, a Candidate, or a Republican Operative of any kind. Although still a registered Republican with conservative leanings, I am now totally independent from the organized Delaware Republican Party. I now consider myself part of the political media–operating the Coastal Network which reaches 5000 people daily. I am well known for writing about both sides of the aisle. I will be doing much of that over the next several months leading up to the November elections.
That being said–when I received this information with highlighted documentation and definitely decided to write about it, I felt it was only fair, ethical, and necessary to contact Christine O’Donnell immediately and get her on the record statements. I spoke with her last Friday night for an hour on the telephone and went over everything in detail. I also asked her to send me an e-mail addressing all the issues. She said she would, but her e-mail below was something different, although interesting. First I will share her comments to me from the interview since her e-mail did not really address the relevant issues or concerns.
Regardless of the fact that one earlier report filed by former Treasurer Susan M. Dixon, indeed reflected an unusual pattern of reimbursements– as federal campaign finance reports usually go–”None of this is significant and can be easily explained, O’Donnell laughing said. “I’m not rich, I’m not working, and it is perfectly legitimate for me to use campaign funds for my living expenses while campaigning–food, gasoline, etc. I can even pay myself a salary as long as I’m not working,” said O’Donnell. As to the unusual Brent Vosher expense check, O’Donnell stated she really didn’t want his name mentioned, but it was a reimbursement to him for out of pocket expenses. When asked about the letters from the Federal Election Commission, she stated,” The two quarters that were not filed were because I wasn’t sure I was going to run again.” Interestingly, the law requires that these reports must be filed as long as the Committee is operating, especially when there are campaign contributions or reimbursements made. O’Donnell went on to say that “she was in touch with the Commission, and the reports would be filed.” As to the required Treasurer issue, she said that “she had indeed been without a Treasurer, but she now had one and the Commission had been notified.”
When asked about the Vicmead business, Ms. O’Donnell said, “that she had thought the credit card had gone through–that she had never been contacted by anybody.” She stated that “her e-mail address had been changed, so any e-mails that were sent, might have been returned.” “They had my telephone number, why didn’t they call me?”, exclaimed Ms. O’Donnell. The State Republican party claims they did call her and left messages on her answering machine, but their calls were never returned. I advised her to get it resolved ASAP, as the rumors were certainly not doing her any good whatsoever. Christine O’Donnell basically said that in all of this, “there was nothing to be concerned about, that she is taking care of everything. She intends to pursue being Delaware’s next U. S. Senator with great vigor.” Before we hung up, she said to me, “God bless you.” Below is her e-mail which I received on Sunday,January 24th.
—– Original Message —–
From: Christine O’Donnell
Sent: Sunday, January 24, 2010 1:47 PM
Subject: From Christine O’Donnell
(This is the email I check more often than the aol address. Since this has 2008 in the address, I will most likely get a new one as the campaign takes off, yet for now, it’s the best to use.)
Thank you for offering me an opportunity to respond to the Republican State Party’s silly accusations. This shows that you are a man of integrity interested in the truth, not simply dirty politics and mud slinging for the sake of sensationalism.
On Friday night after we hung up, I spend over 4 hours drafting a response to their attacks. I woke up the next morning and realized that they had already succeeded simply by shifting my focus from preparing for the opportunities at hand. (I should have been reviewing my speech for the Take Back Our State Dinner and preparing for my overseas trip to meet with Pres. Musharraf and other European heads of state.)
Although I am sincerely grateful for the opportunity you’ve offered me, I’ve decided not to respond. I feel that there are much more important issues at hand. If I respond, they will succeed in taking the focus off the real issues (such as the fact that Castle votes with Obama 6 out of 10 times.) I will allow them to succeed in reducing my candidacy to dirty, petty politics. I have not even announced yet. My first public voice should not be about a story generated from half-truths and distorted facts. This is not what politics in this country should be about.
Although not responding may give some people the wrong impression about me, I know that right now it is the right thing to do.
Once I announce and the public has already heard from me, if the Castle team and DE GOP choose to attack, I will respond. I have nothing to hide and know I have done everything possible to maintain integrity. And I am remedying the areas in which I missed the mark (like missing two FEC reports.) If the FEC doesn’t have a problem with my report, neither should the Republican party!
There’s enough contrast between Mike Castle and me that we should be able to keep this race about the issues. We should be able to put our platforms out there and let the voters decide which candidate best represents the future of the Republican party.
I thank you in advance for understanding why I am not responding to their attack.
O’Donnell for US Senate 2010
There you have it folks—
JUDSON Bennett-Coastal Network