- Associated Press - Friday, April 8, 2016

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Former GOP Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell says she pretended to live at a Delaware townhouse that served as her 2010 campaign headquarters because it was in a secure complex and she had received previous threats and feared for her safety.

In a deposition in a lawsuit filed against her by the Federal Elections Commission, O’Donnell said she rarely slept at the Greenville townhouse and never really lived there, despite subleasing space from the campaign. The lawsuit claims that O’Donnell improperly used at least $20,000 in campaign contributions to pay bills at the townhouse. She has rejected that claim.

“I wasn’t even technically living there,” she said. “So it was a security measure, getting a physical barrier as to how stalkers and harassers and people who would make threats against me, people who jeopardized my safety, we had to quickly put up a physical barrier, which is your legal address.”

“So that’s what makes this unique in that it was my primary residence, but I wasn’t living there,” O’Donnell added when asked about utility bills. “You know what I mean? I wasn’t like hanging out there having dinner parties Netflix and chill, all that kind of stuff. If I was there, I was there working on the campaign.”

A transcript of the deposition was filed last week in federal court along with O’Donnell’s request that the judge rule for her. The FEC has filed a pretrial motion for summary judgment in its favor.

O’Donnell, who famously declared in the 2010 campaign that she was “not a witch,” has denied any wrongdoing and has called the lawsuit a “witch hunt.” O’Donnell had run a TV ad in that campaign in which she asserted she was not a witch, a reference to a 1999 late-night talk show appearance in which she said she had dabbled in witchcraft as a teenager. She lost the race to a Democrat.

O’Donnell testified in the deposition that she spoke with an FEC official before signing the lease about the proposed dual use of the townhouse. She said it didn’t appear to be a problem then.

“So in my understanding, we cleared it and said it was okay,” said O’Donnell, acknowledging that she had no documentation to confirm the phone calls or the guidance she supposedly received. “Otherwise, I would have never moved forward. Knowing that I was about to get into a highly contested Senate race, I went into it hoping to do everything by the book.”

When FEC attorney Seth Nesin showed O’Donnell a log of the agency’s phone calls, O’Donnell said it was missing several phone calls from her and her campaign.

Nesin also questioned why O’Donnell made no mention of the phone calls in an affidavit she submitted in response to a complaint filed with the FEC by a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Meanwhile, O’Donnell indicated that she remains concerned about her safety and privacy, telling Nesin at one point that she would not answer his “prying, invasive questions,” and providing few details about her past and current living arrangements.

“Unless a judge … tells me I need to comment on my residency after 2011, I’m very uncomfortable talking about it,” said O’Donnell, who testified that she used the Greenville townhouse as her legal residence up until last year.

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