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Republican senatorial nominee in Delaware and Tea Party hero of the moment Christine O'Donnell has been accused of embezzling thousands of dollars in campaign money to pay for personal expenses. The allegations, made by the non-partisan watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), claim that O'Donnell used more than $20,000 in campaign funds to pay for rent, meals, and gas money during 2009 and 2010. She was not expected to win her race against Democrat Chris Coons, who leads significantly in the polls, but this controversy is certainly not going to help.

  • CREW Calls for Formal Investigation, Prison Time  CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a press release alongside the report, "Christine O'Donnell is clearly a criminal, and like any crook she should be prosecuted. ... 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. ... 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."
  • Specifics of the Allegations  CBS News' Brian Montopoli reports, "[CREW] said its allegations are tied to former O'Donnell aide David Keegan's affidavit stating O'Donnell, who has run for Senate three times, paid her rent for two months out of campaign funds in 2009 and also used campaign funds for meals and gas. In addition to misappropriation of campaign funds, CREW argues that O'Donnell is guilty of lying about the expenditures and committed tax evasion by not reporting the money as income. Representatives for O'Donnell, whose financial disclosure form said her earned income between March 2009 and June 2010 was just $5,800, did not immediately respond to a request for comment."
  • Campaigning for Profit  Daily Kos's TrahmalG writes, "The way Christine O'Donnell has been making her living is by campaigning. ... All those wonderful donations she gathered during her campaign, all those Republicans who gave away their money to get her elected ended up being used in the most hypocritical way, it's ridiculous. Remember, the government is teh evil and she's fighting against government waste and liberal spending . . . Yeah, right."
  • O'Donnell Shrugging It Off  The Washington Independent's Jesse Zwick writes, "Her campaign’s financial improprieties dredged up during the primary contest continue to haunt her candidacy going forward. ... O’Donnell, thus far, has refused to return calls for comment on the matter and seemed to dismiss such allegations as mere smear tactics during her speech at the Voter Values Summit in Washington this Friday."
  • 'Much Ado About Nothing'  Conservative blogger Allahpundit scoffs, "If [Democratic opponent Chris] Coons resorts to trivial attacks when independents are roiling over big issues like spending and debt, this race will tighten quickly, I think. For now, it looks like they’re going to stick with her finances and related ethical complaints. Her campaign is already answering, insisting it’s much ado about nothing."
  • How O'Donnell, Dems Will Respond  The Moderate Voice's Joe Gandelman writes, "Look for O’Donnell to avoid the press even more unless her team comes up with stronger responses. Or to go on Sean Hannity’s cable or radio show to do a p.r. style appearance there. ... Look for the Democrats to hammer away at this controversy. It would have been a topic they would have used in ads anyway, but the fact that CREW — the same group that has gone after Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel — is saying she is virtually a criminal will give more weight to the charge."
  • GOP 'Grifters' Find Their Own Stimulus  Liberal blogger John Cole quips, "Apparently the reason teabaggers are so opposed to the stimulus is that they’ve come up with their own financial recovery plan- running for office. ... And if that fails, you can always try the old Republican stand-by: marry a beer heiress! That’s worked out ok for McCain, even if she plasters on the make-up like a trollop."

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