Former Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell yesterday blasted reports that her campaign was under federal investigation for misuse of funds, saying that she'd been warned that political insiders from both parties were out to discredit her "to ensure I would never again upset the apple cart."
"I have faith that our supporters and the general public will see right through these thug tactics," O'Donnell said in a statement released by her campaign that singled out Vice President Joe Biden as a conspirator. "This is simply an establishment trick to stop the anti-establishment tea-party movement in its tracks."
The Associated Press reported yesterday that federal authorities have opened a criminal investigation to determine whether O'Donnell, who lost the November election to Democrat Chris Coons, broke the law by using campaign contributions for personal expenses.
Neither the U.S. Attorney's Office in Delaware nor the FBI would confirm such an investigation to the Daily News yesterday.
But Kim Reeves, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, did say that the office had been reviewing a complaint against O'Donnell filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
A CREW spokesman did not return repeated requests for comment yesterday.
In September, CREW filed complaints with the Delaware U.S. Attorney's Office and the Federal Election Commission, alleging that O'Donnell has misused funds. At the time, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan called O'Donnell a "criminal" and a "crook."
"Ms. O'Donnell has spent years embezzling money from her campaign to cover personal expenses. . . . If you need money to pay the rent and eat, you get a job; you don't start a Senate campaign so unsuspecting donors can support you," Sloan said.
Besides sending a letter of complaint, CREW also allegedly provided the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FEC with evidence that included an affidavit from former O'Donnell campaign worker David Keegan.
In 2008, Keegan attested, "I became concerned about Ms. O'Donnell's campaign spending as she had no other visible source of personal income."
He noted that she not only paid her rent in 2009 with campaign money but also used it for personal expenses like gas, meals and a bowling outing.
O'Donnell's campaign has acknowledged that although she has in the past paid her rent with campaign money, she did so when her house also served as campaign headquarters.
In her response yesterday, O'Donnell said that it was no coincidence that CREW's Sloan had once worked for Biden, a Democrat and former Delaware senator. In fact, O'Donnell implied that Biden would use his position to discredit her.
"Given that the king of 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," O'Donnell said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.