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Watchdog group asks feds to probe O’Donnell

CREW accuses the GOP Senate candidate of fraud

- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2010

A nonpartisan government watchdog group has fired the latest salvo against Christine O'Donnell, the Republican's newly-minted Senate nominee for Delaware, calling her a "crook" and accusing her of tax evasion and embezzling campaign funds.

In one of strongest attacks yet against the "tea party"-backed Ms. O'Donnell, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Monday filed complaints with the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) accusing her of misusing campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and then lying about her expenditures on forms she filed with the FEC.

By failing to include the campaign funds she misappropriated as income, CREW officials contend she committed tax evasion.

"Christine O'Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook she should be prosecuted," said Melanie Sloan, CREW executive director. "Ms. O'Donnell has spent years embezzling money from her campaign to cover her personal expenses. Republicans and Democrats don't agree on much these days, but both sides should agree on one point: Thieves belong in jail, not the United States Senate."

CREW has asked the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office to start an immediate criminal inquiry and has asked the FEC to conduct a full audit of all of Ms. O'Donnell's campaign expenses.

The group's complaint is based in part on the affidavit of former campaign aide David Keegan. Mr. Keegan said that in 2009, when Ms. O'Donnell was out of money, she paid her landlord, Brent Vasher, two months rent out of her campaign funds. On FEC forms, Ms. O'Donnell called the expenditures "expense reimbursements."

Mr. Keegan also said Ms. O'Donnell routinely used campaign funds for meals, gas and even a bowling outing.

Ms. O'Donnell, once considered a fringe candidate, shocked party establishment favorite Rep. Michael N. Castle to win last week's Delaware GOP primary.

Ms. O'Donnell has been hammered Democrats for her staunch conservative and religious views and has been scorned by some high-profile Republicans who consider her unelectable.

Mr. Castle was considered a heavy favorite to beat Democratic Senate nominee Chris Coons, but Ms. O'Donnell trailed by 11 percentage points in a Rasmussen Reports poll conducted Wednesday — the day after her primary victory.

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