Sunday, March 6, 2011

Delaware GOP filed lawsuit against wrong Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

That's a big oops. It turns out that there was some funny business when it came to campaign finance in the Delaware Republican Party but it wasn't committed by Christine O'Donnell. Instead the violations were committed by none other than former Congressman Mike Castle. The Delaware GOP overtly claimed that O'Donnell used campaign funds for personal expenses in a suspicious pattern in 2009-2010. This argument is largely based on the idea that she had not filed a Statement of Candidacy (the form required by federal election law for a candidate to be official). The following is information that has recently come to light:
Yet O'Donnell's "pattern" was similar to Mike Castle's "pattern" of campaign spending, except that O'Donnell declared herself a candidate (technically, exploring a candidacy for office) in January 2009, whereas Mike Castle did not actually become a candidate until October 2009. (Actually, O'Donnell's pattern of campaign spending in early 2009 is more obviously proper than Castle's.)

The DEGOP's lies were based upon the falsehood that O'Donnell was not a candidate for office at the time the expenses were incurred. In fact, she undeniably was.

From January 2009 through June 2009, Mike Castle used campaign funds for:

$587.64 for food & beverage at CAFE GELATTO, paid on February 6, 2009. (Remember: Castle's Statement of Candidacy was filed October 19, 2009.)

$2,588.88 for food & beverage at the Capitol Hill Club restaurant in Washington, DC, paid between March and May 2009. Again, Castle filed his Statement of Candidacy in October 2009. The U.S. Senate campaign was up in Delaware, not in Washington, D.C. However, Castle was a Congressman in D.C., eating out in Washington, D.C. off of campaign contributions.

$245.77 at WHO'S COOKIN' for FOOD & BEVERAGE, paid on 3/27/2009

$594 at FLOWERS BY YUKIE between January and March 2009.

$219.80 at HAPPY HARRY'S on 1/14/2009

$13,499.35 in unspecified credit card charges, creating a "slush fund" for Mike Castle's expenses that are not identified on FEC reports.

$873.70 at the TIMBERLAKE restaurant down in Washington, D.C., not in Delaware where the campaign was, paid on 12/19/2008. Castle was of course a sitting Congressman at the time. However, his personal expenses for food down in Washington, D.C. should not be paid out of his campaign funds up in Delaware. Congress was in its Christmas recess on December 19, 2008. Food related to either Castle's Congressional activities or personal living in Washington, D.C. should not be paid out of campaign funds for the election up in Delaware.

$120.00 at GALLAGHER & GALLAGHER for food & beverage paid on 4/29/2009.

$1,298.67 to COMCAST cable from January 2009 through June 2009 -- again months before Mike Castle was actually a candidate.

$500 for gala tickets to the Chowder & Marching Club -- IN MARYLAND! This was not an event in Delaware.

$546.25 to AMTRAK for travel from March 2009 to May 2009 - before Castle was a candidate.

Mike Castle -- although an elected official for almost 40 years -- has somehow amassed a personal fortune worth over $3.5 million. Perhaps we've discovered part of Mike Castle's road to riches: Pocket his congressional salary, then live off of campaign donations for his personal living expenses? At least if those accusations are hurled without any foundation at O'Donnell, might we ask the same questions about Mike Castle? Or are questions about certain people off limits?

While Christine O'Donnell was clearly a candidate for U.S. Senate in January 2009, so that all of her campaign expenses are legitimate, it is Mike Castle who fails the very same test advanced by the Delaware Republican Party. The smears spread by the DEGOP were then handed to Ginger Gibson at the Delaware News Journal, who published a March 2010 hit piece smearing O'Donnell. These charges were later picked up by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in a criminal complaint based on David Keegan's affidavit.
On March 20, 2009, O'Donnell filed a "Statement of Candidacy" for the 2010 U.S. Senate race with the Federal Election Commission.

In December 2008, O'Donnell posted a message on her 2008 campaign website urging volunteers to keep their campaign signs for probable use in 2010. In January 2009, O'Donnell began informing supporters privately of her status as an exploratory candidate for the 2010 U.S. Senate race. Her campaign finance reports show trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with donors and potential supporters, as well as meetings in Delaware with potential donors and supporters.

The Statement of Candidacy is normally filed only after a person has been a candidate for a while, and exceeded a $5,000 threshold of donations or expenses. So O'Donnell was a candidate prior to March 20, 2009. Castle, however, exceeded the $5,000 donation / expenditure threshold very early in 2009, but Castle did not file his Statement of Candidacy until October 2009. Therefore, Castle did not have the intent to be a candidate until October, and from January through September 2009 was using campaign funds for personal purposes. At least, that is the very same argument used by insiders in attacking Christine O'Donnell.

The Delaware Republican Party started in December 2009 -- weeks after Karl Rove's attempts failed at co-opting the tea party movement for Mike Castle -- to circulate smears, likes, and slander against Christine O'Donnell. The "DEGOP" was obligated to remain neutral among primary candidates for the Republican nomination until the State GOP endorsing convention held March 13-14, 2010, in Rehoboth Beach. Instead, the DEGOP not only launched assaults to sabotage Christine O'Donnell to help left-wing Mike Castle (a fiscal liberal and social liberal), but did so with savage personal attacks which were lies and slander.

With this kind of dishonesty by Tom Ross and the Delaware Republican leadership, it is time to start over with a fresh team of leadership for Delaware's Republican future.

With these new revelations about the 2010 Republican candidates for Senate, I hope that intelligent moderate Republicans, who were sucked in by the lies of Tom Ross, Priscilla Rakestraw and Mike Castle will hold them accountable by their own standards and call for their removal and dismissal. Ross, Rakestraw and Castle have done damage to the party that will linger for many years. Their plan appears to have been to burn the party down if they couldn't maintain control. I sincerely hope that the next chair of the Delaware GOP, whomever they may be, moves forward and brings along people Like Glen Urquhart and Christine O'Donnell who energized and revitalized the Delaware GOP in 2010. They deserve not only our thanks but our apologies for the way they were treated.

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