Video: O’Donnell: GOP trying to discredit me

  1. Transcript of: O’Donnell: GOP trying to discredit me

    CURRY: All right, Norah , thanks. Well, Christine O'Donnell is now joining us. Good morning, Christine .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Good morning. Good morning and thank you, Ann , for the opportunity to set the record straight . I mean, I was laughing during most of that open.

    CURRY: OK.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: You know, particular...

    CURRY: Well, let me get to my -- let me get to my first question, though, because last night, your campaign office released a statement saying that these reports of an investigation were just rumors.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yes.

    CURRY: But then the US attorney 's office has since now confirmed that there is, in fact, an inquiry, a reviewing of a complaint made about your campaign spending. Have you been contacted and what is your response to this news?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No. We still have not been contacted and I find it very suspicious that the AP was tipped off before my lawyer or any formal notice has been made to my campaign . But you can see right through these, if you look closer. That sound bite that you played from Kristin Murray , who was fired from my 2008 campaign after a week and a half of working on the campaign , these allegations -- these false accusations of using funds for rent, the CREW complaint states 2009 .

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: She worked in 2008 on the campaign . So that sound bite that you played where she said, 'Oh, I saw that she was using it for rent.' What, you saw into the future with your crystal ball ? I mean, this is exactly why we had to fire her. And if you look closer, this is the same CREW complaint that was filed several months ago by Melanie Sloan , a former Biden staffer from CREW , which is a George Soros left wing organization and their key witness here, this is what's most telling, their key witness was a volunteer from 2008 , who was also let go, who has since become so obsessed with this whole thing that he's posting pornographic statements about me on Facebook . So...

    CURRY: OK. Now, let me interrupt you here because people don't know what CREW is.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

    CURRY: CREW is Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Right.

    CURRY: And it's been saying that you've misused more than $20,000 worth of campaign funds quote "as your own personal piggy bank."

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Right.

    CURRY: For things like rent and gas and meals and even a bowling outing. So let me ask you now point-blank, have you ever used any of the campaign funds...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No.

    CURRY: ...you have raised and you've raised millions, have you ever raised -- used any of your campaign funds...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No.

    CURRY: ...for personal use?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No.

    CURRY: Not for rent?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: There is -- there's -- no. The rent they're talking about is the townhouse that is our office. And we've, you know, we housed the staffers who are from downstate and out of state. We're talking about volunteers...

    CURRY: But weren't you living in that townhouse, Christine ?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No, I was using that -- here's the -- here's where the miscommunication comes in. Because my home was vandalized and eggs thrown at my house, I pay the campaign , I pay the campaign money to use the townhouse as my legal residency. Not the campaign pays me. So they're taking it totally out of context, something innocent, they're trying to twist as negative in order to further this slanderous attack and to make it...

    CURRY: Now you mentioned Kristin Murray , and I'm going to interrupt here because I want to get to this other statement made.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah. Uh-huh.

    CURRY: In fairness to you, your 2008 , again, it's 2008 , but he was your campaign finance director.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Right.

    CURRY: As you know, David Keegan .

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No.

    CURRY: He told The New York Times in September, let me just get this out, that he...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Right.

    CURRY: ...quote "was consistently trying to hold you back from spending" and that you were quote "financially completely irresponsible." This seems to be, you know, his statement and Kristin 's statement...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: No. He was not finance...

    CURRY: ...and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

    CURRY: ...seems to be sort of the source of all of this. What's your response to that?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Right. Well, again, he was not a finance director , he was a volunteer who organized a fundraiser at his home and he gave so many people on the team the creeps that we had to let him go. By late August, he was not invited to any more campaign events and it was an ongoing issue in 2008 . Again, Kristin Murray , we fired her. She was fired from the Delaware GOP . We tried to give her a chance and she was fired after a week and a half for incompetence. Since they...

    CURRY: So you're saying this is really disgruntled employees and politically motivated.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Wait, let me -- absolutely.

    CURRY: But let me ask you this, then, before we...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: And since then, well, let me finish on this.

    CURRY: OK.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Because since then, since then, many people involved with the 2008 campaign , including a real campaign manager , Jon Moseley , have stepped up to the plate and say, 'Look, I was involved much longer than Dave Keegan , much longer than Kristin Murray and saw them for what they were.' We've had numerous people step up and say look at this for what it is, people who were involved in 2008 . So you know, again, these are disgruntled employees. And look at the source. Check out their credibility.

    CURRY: But, but...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Again, Kristin Murray is saying that she saw something. The CREW complaint says that in 2009 , I was misusing funds. She worked for us for a week and a half in 2008 . So again, what, she saw it through her crystal ball ?

    CURRY: Let me just interrupt you...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Look at this for what it is.

    CURRY: ...to ask you this question because I think you're going to want to answer it.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: OK.

    CURRY: You go beyond saying that this is just about disgruntled employees and...

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Yeah.

    CURRY: ...you actually go on to say -- your campaign has said that you have been warned of a plan to quote "crush me with investigations, lawsuits and false accusations so that my political reputation would become so toxic that no one would ever get behind me."

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Mm-hmm.

    CURRY: So Christine O'Donnell , who is behind this plan, this conspiracy to get you?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Well, you know, I wouldn't say the word "conspiracy," I mean, look at what's happening. You know, exactly what we were tipped off is coming into play, false accusations . You know, you don't have to...

    CURRY: But who do you think is orchestrating this if, in fact, there is a plan, Christine ?

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Look at the people behind it. Look at -- I mean, we've got the Delaware GOP because we upset the establishment candidate. We beat Mike Castle very soundly because we turned the political process back over to the people. Melanie Sloan used to work for Biden . This is part of the political apparatus who wants to make sure that this anti-establishment movement is stopped in its tracks. They're trying to discredit me. And you know, again, that robo call that you quoted was paid for by the Delaware GOP .

    CURRY: Mm-hmm.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: The Delaware GOP also launched an investigation arm-in-arm with the CREW complaint. This is about establishment vs. the new grassroots movement that's rising up to put the system on notice.

    CURRY: All right.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: And to say, 'Hey, career politicians, citizen politicians are fighting back.' That's something that challenges politics as usual.

    CURRY: Right.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: And is holding the system accountable and they don't want that to happen.

    CURRY: On that note, we have to leave it. Christine O'Donnell , thanks so much for joining us this morning.

    Ms. O'DONNELL: Thank you, Ann , thank you.

updated 12/30/2010 2:59:18 PM ET 2010-12-30T19:59:18

Failed U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell said Thursday that accusations she misspent campaign funds are politically motivated and stoked by disgruntled former campaign workers.

The Delaware Republican appeared on several network morning shows to defend herself a day after The Associated Press reported federal authorities have launched a criminal probe to determine whether she broke the law by using campaign money to pay personal expenses.

"There's been no impermissible use of campaign funds whatsoever," O'Donnell told ABC's "Good Morning America."

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O'Donnell, the Tea Party favorite who scored a surprise primary victory before losing in the general election, suggested the accusations are driven by political establishments on the right and left, including Joe Biden. He represented Delaware in the Senate for decades before he became vice president.

Video: O'Donnell investigated for campaign spending

"You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is," she said Thursday.

O'Donnell said she found it suspicious that she, her campaign staff and her lawyer have not been informed of a federal investigation.

A person familiar with the investigation confirmed it to The AP, speaking 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.

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

At least two former campaign workers have alleged that she routinely used political contributions to pay personal expenses including her rent as she ran for the Senate. She has run three consecutive times, starting in 2006.

O'Donnell has acknowledged paying part of her rent with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.

On Thursday, she told NBC's "Today Show" that people making the spending allegations include a fired former staff member and a former volunteer, both of whom she described as disgruntled. She says many other workers who spent longer with her campaigns have defended her.

Video: O’Donnell: GOP trying to discredit me (on this page)

Her contention that the accusations were politically motivated echoed a written statement she released the day before, which singled out Biden.

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"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.

The vice president's office declined to comment.

O'Donnell's campaign also has criticized the nonpartisan watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which filed a complaint about O'Donnell's campaign spending this fall and asked Delaware's federal prosecutor to investigate.

O'Donnell says the group is part of a liberal effort to kill her career, noting that the organization is run by Washington attorney Melanie Sloan, who worked under Biden as a lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee in the early 1990s.

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Sloan dismissed the criticism Thursday, emphasizing that the allegations originated with conservatives who worked for O'Donnell.

"I don't see how anybody can say that those people are part of the liberal machine," Sloan said. "What CREW did was look at what they were saying and say, 'Wait a minute, that's against the law.'"

The U.S. Attorney's office in Delaware has confirmed it is reviewing CREW's complaint. But officials in the office and the FBI declined to say whether a criminal investigation was under way.

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 has maintained that it was told otherwise by someone at the agency.

O'Donnell drew national attention in September when she upset U.S. Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination. She was handily defeated in November by Democrat Chris Coons following a campaign that focused largely on past controversial statements, including that she'd "dabbled into witchcraft" when she was young.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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