Michael Gaynor
Feds probing O'Donnell campaign, but not the Obama presidential campaign
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By Michael Gaynor
January 3, 2011

To check how the battle for the hearts and minds of the America people is going, take note of the focus of the political discussion. If ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief and Heather Heidelbaugh (the attorney who presented her as a key witness in the Pennsylvania ACORN case in October 2008 and testified about ACORN before Congress in March 2009) are center-stage, on offense, the truth will prevail and Team Obama will be politically doomed. If O'Donnell and her able attorney Cleta Mitchell are center-stage, on defense, Team Obama's distraction/deception campaign will be setting the stage for re-election by dividing the opposition and keeping the ugly truth out of the general public consciousness.

Remember the joke about the policeman looking for evidence at night under a street light and explaining he was doing that because the light was better there?

We need to investigate any significant wrongdoing, but the greater the wrongdoing, the higher priority it merits.

Amazingly, the Obama Justice Department is tolerant of voter intimidation by New Black Panthers, but it's looking for a criminal conviction of Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell for paying rent with campaign funds. Recently reprimanded by the House of Representatives Congressman Charles Rangel, what say you?

What really needs to be investigated — and this year perhaps the House of Representatives will dare to do — are the relationships between ACORN/Project Vote and the Obama presidential campaign and the Democrat Party. See "Why Wouldn't Speaker Boehner Still Want Answers?" (November 16, 2010) (ww.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=101116) and "The Key to Beating Obama in 2012 Is Publicizing the Truth About Him and ACORN" (December 21, 2010) (www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=101221).

To check how the battle for the hearts and minds of the America people is going, take note of the focus of the political discussion. If ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief and Heather Heidelbaugh (the attorney who presented her as a key witness in the Pennsylvania ACORN case in October 2008 and testified about ACORN before Congress in March 2009) are center-stage, on offense, the truth will prevail and Team Obama will be politically doomed. If O'Donnell and her able attorney Cleta Mitchell are center-stage, on defense, Team Obama's distraction/deception campaign will be setting the stage for re-election by dividing the opposition and keeping the ugly truth out of the general public consciousness.

Playing the racist card against the Tea Party did not work out well for the Far Left, so an effort is underway to play the hypocrisy card and the Far Left views O'Donnell as the perfect foil. (O'Donnell has lost three United States Senate races, including one in which she opted to be a write-in candidate after losing a Republican primary, and lost in 2010 by 17%, despite record-breaking fundraising after she became a Tea Party darling and one of Sarah Palin's "Momma Grizzlies.")

Unsurprisingly, AP is helping, not only by reporting, but by picking a particularly unflattering photograph to illustrate its report. See http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101229/ap_on_re_us/us_o_donnell_investigation. The text accompanying the photograph states: "In this Sept. 17, 2010 file photo, Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell delivers remarks at Values Voter Summit in Washington. Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of O'Donnell to determine if she broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)"

Ben Nuckols and Matthew Barakat, Associated Press, "Feds probe Christine O'Donnell's campaign spending" (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101229/ap_on_re_us/us_o_donnell_investigation):

"Federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation of Delaware Republican Christine O'Donnell to determine if the former Senate candidate broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses, according to a person with knowledge of the investigation.

"The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to protect the identity of a client who has been questioned as part of the probe. The case, which has been assigned to two federal prosecutors and two FBI agents in Delaware, has not been brought before a grand jury.

"O'Donnell, who set a state record by raising more than $7.3 million in a tea party-fueled campaign this year, has long been dogged by questions about her personal and campaign finances.

"At least two former campaign workers have alleged that O'Donnell routinely used political contributions to pay personal expenses including her rent in recent years as she ran for the Senate three consecutive times, starting in 2006."

The article also reported O'Donnell's predictable initial reaction to the probe report:

"Her campaign issued a statement...denying that she misspent campaign money and saying it has heard nothing from authorities.

"'If anything does materialize from this rumor, we will continue to fully cooperate as we have made every attempt to ensure we are in compliance with all rules and regulations,' the statement said.

"O'Donnell called the allegations politically motivated and suggested that the Obama administration — particularly Vice President Joe Biden, who represented Delaware in the Senate for decades — could be behind it.

"'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 the statement."

The Federal Government is playing it coy:

"The U.S. Attorney's office has confirmed it is reviewing a complaint about O'Donnell's campaign spending lodged this year by a watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics of Washington, but officials in the office and the FBI declined to say whether a criminal investigation was under way.

"CREW filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission raising allegations about O'Donnell's campaign spending. The group asked Delaware's federal prosecutor to investigate."

The AP article reported that O'Donnell may have violated the law by paying rent on her residence with campaign funds, even if that residence was used for campaign purposes:

"Although O'Donnell's campaign has denied wrongdoing, she has acknowledged she paid part of her rent at times with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.

"Federal law prohibits candidates from spending campaign money for personal benefit. FEC rules state that this prohibition applies to the use of campaign money for a candidate's mortgage or rent 'even if part of the residence is being used by the campaign,' although O'Donnell's campaign maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency."

Former O'Donnell insiders appear to be key to ascertaining the truth:

"One former O'Donnell staffer, Kristin Murray, recorded an automated phone call for the Delaware Republican Party just before the primary, accusing O'Donnell of 'living on campaign donations — using them for rent and personal expenses, while leaving her workers unpaid and piling up thousands in debt.'

"Another former aide, David Keegan, said he became concerned about O'Donnell's 2008 campaign finances as she fell behind on bills and had no apparent source of income besides political contributions. He submitted an affidavit to CREW alleging that she used campaign money to cover meals, gas, a bowling outing, and rent to a landlord, Brent Vasher.

"Vasher, a nephew of Keegan's and a one-time boyfriend of O'Donnell, declined comment when asked by The AP if he had been contacted by authorities. Vasher bought O'Donnell's house in 2008 after she was served with a foreclosure notice, then charged her rent to stay there, according to CREW's complaint.

"In a message sent last week to The AP, Keegan said he had not been questioned as part of a criminal investigation, and that he considers himself only a 'catalyst' in a case in which several people must be questioned to scrutinize O'Donnell's accounting practices and alleged misuse of campaign funds.

"During her three failed Senate bids, O'Donnell had numerous campaign treasurers, many of whom left after serving brief stints. After losing two treasurers in 2009, she named herself treasurer until this past summer. Another short-term treasurer took over in August and resigned less than two months later, at which point campaign manager Matt Moran added the treasurer's role to his responsibilities."

Moran previously announced that campaign attorney Cleta Mitchell had advised reserving several hundred thousand dollars for legal fees to defend against campaign spending allegations.

AP article: "'We've been warned by multiple high-ranking Democrat insiders that the Delaware Democrat and Republican political establishment is jointly planning to pull out all the stops to ensure I would never again upset the apple cart,' O'Donnell said in her statement Wednesday. 'Specifically they told me the plan was to crush me with investigations, lawsuits and false accusations so that my political reputation would become so toxic no one would ever get behind me.'"

Fox provided more detail in "AP: O'Donnell Under Federal Investigation" (www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/122910-christine-o%E2%80%99donnell-under-federal-investigation):

"In September, Fox 29 learned the U.S. Attorney's Office was looking into claims by a watchdog group that O'Donnell used campaign funds for personal expenses.

"The Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics said the spending is all detailed in federal election documents, and the expenses include trips to K-Mart, gas stations and many restaurants.

"'Ms. O'Donnell may have more blatantly and brazenly stolen her campaign funds than any candidate in recent history,' the group claimed.

"'O'Donnell who has no other form of support appears to have used her campaign coffers like her personal piggy bank.'

"In a complaint to the Federal Election Commission and the United States Attorney's Office, the claim said in 2009 O'Donnell twice paid her $750 monthly rent out of her campaign war chest.

"The groups said also O'Donnell spent funds on trips to restaurants like the Lone Star Steakhouse and Ruby Tuesdays, several trips to stores like said Joe's, Cumberland Farms and Target, and even a $19 bowling outing.

"All the expenses were listed as fundraising expenses.

"In September, O'Donnell denied the charges in her own way.

"'Are they going to make up lies and slander our families. Of course they will. But is it worth it? Let me ask you — is freedom worth it?'

"The watchdog group's claims are largely based not just on documents but by affidavits of a former finance consultant who quit the O'Donnell campaign.

"Fox 29 also found some other expenses the group calls questionable, including a $3,000 payment to O'Donnell's mother for consulting fees, as well as $54 'staffing expense' to Mattress Giant."

The full O'Donnell campaign statement follows:

December 29, 2010. Wilmington, DE: Christine O'Donnell's campaign released the following statement in response to investigation rumors and states that Democrat insiders warned her that the "Establishment" would use phony investigations to end her political career:

Campaign Manager Matt Moran responded to the rumor of a criminal investigation, "We have heard absolutely nothing other than the same unsubstantiated allegations and rumors that have been circulating in the press for months. "If anything does materialize from this rumor, we will continue to fully cooperate as we have made every attempt to ensure we are in compliance with all rules and regulations. The politically motivated charge was all started by false accusations by Christine's political opponents, and ratcheted up by former Biden staffer Melanie Sloan and CREW with their false claims. Let us be clear: there was no impermissible use of campaign funds. Period. This is just an ongoing effort by the George Soros-funded CREW and other liberal groups and individuals to intimidate and threaten Christine, even after the election."

Christine O'Donnell continued, "Since anonymous sources are being taken seriously, please allow me to share some tips I've received and keep the tipsters' identities anonymous. We've been warned by multiple high-ranking Democrat insiders that the Delaware Democrat and Republican political establishment is jointly planning to pull out all the stops to ensure I would never again upset the apple cart. Specifically they told me the plan was to crush me with investigations, lawsuits and false accusations so that my political reputation would become so toxic no one would ever get behind me. I was warned by numerous sources that the DE political establishment is going to use every resource available to them. So 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. And further connecting the dots, do you think it is just a coincidence that Melanie Sloan was a senior Biden staffer just before she joined CREW and filed her complaint against me?!

"I have faith that our supporters and the general public will see right through these thug tactics. This is simply an Establishment trick to stop the anti-establishment Tea Party movement in its tracks. Heck, the Presidency is at stake in 2012."

O'Donnell is right...that the Presidency is at stake in 2012. Unfortunately, her ability does not match her ambition and any mistakes she may have made or will make will be used to discredit the well-meaning Tea Party.

© Michael Gaynor

 

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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