Take a moment from your busy holiday season to consider the following fact: As the new class of Tea Party backed legislators prepares to head off to Washington for the 112th Congress, the movement is once again besmirched by one of it’s former stars. This time it’s thanks to a slip up by that one time sensation, Christine O’Donnell, who is now under the microscope for yet another round of financial improprieties, these related to her failed 2008 run for the U.S. Senate.
According to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, it seems pretty clear that O’Donnell had been using her campaign money to finance her personal lifestyle and that would be highly illegal. These allegations were backed up as well by Ben Evans of the Associated Press, who pointed out:” 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…O’Donnell has acknowledged paying part of her rent with campaign money, arguing that her house doubled as a campaign headquarters.” Likewise, Mark Halperin and others have provided similar and supporting observations. To date, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware is reviewing a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, examining the merits of that complaint and whether or not the amount of money purloined from the campaign reaches the appropriate threshold to require D.O.J. action. The matter is also before the FBI.
Ms. O’Donnell has tried to deflect this latest controversy by asserting that she is he victim of “thug tactics” perpetrated by Vice President Biden or some well orchestrated conspiracy being carried out by the “professional left.” However, Melanie Sloan, President of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington quickly dispatched with these allegations with the following comment which revealed that the source of the allegations against O’Donnell came from her own Republican Staffers and not:” “because we’re some Soros funded group or something, it’s the Republican staffers — people who worked for her — who made it clear she was stealing the money,”
While many would ask the question: “Why bother with Christine O’Donnell as she has by now been roundly dismissed for the buffoon that she is?” Well that may in fact be the case as far as Ms. O’Donnell goes but there is a larger, more compelling question beyond the particulars of her personal missteps alone. That larger question revolves around the selection of someone like Christine O’Donnell as a candidate for public office and what that says about decision making process within the Tea Party Movement as it relates to who is picked to run and how they are vetted. Moreover, what in turn does the selection of candidates of Ms. O’Donnell’s caliber that say about the Tea Party Movement’s chances for long term success? I for one think that this element of the movement’s modus operandi is in fact one of it’s greatest weaknesses, one that works against its long term viability as a serious force within American politics. Not to telegraph too much, but this will be part and parcel of a wider discussion in the New Year, Stay tuned and Happy New Year.
Steven J. Gulitti