Christine O’Donnell, sneak thief

Now that it turns out that Christine O’Donnell was pilfering campaign funds (from a campaign that ended deep in debt, stiffing the vendors) to pay personal expenses, would any of my conservative friends like to explain why she belongs in the Senate anyway? As far as I can tell, neither the campaign nor any of the right-leaning blogs has bothered to put up a substantive defense: it’s all “CREW is supported by Soros.”

No, I don’t take charges from CREW as gospel; they’ve got a viewpoint. But what’s the innocent explanation for putting her gas and bowling (!) bills on the campaign tab? You could ask the campaign treasurer, but apparently there wasn’t one during the months when these expenses were being charged. Any more than there was a campaign, since the election was long since over and lost.

Fortunately for O’Donnell, it’s rare that anyone goes to the clink for campaign chiseling, and the income tax evasion certainly doesn’t rise to the level that generates criminal charges. Once she’s lost, she can spend a comfortable period collecting wingnut welfare on her celebrity and victimhood.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

13 thoughts on “Christine O’Donnell, sneak thief”

  1. "Now that it turns out that Christine O’Donnell was pilfering campaign funds (from a campaign that ended deep in debt, stiffing the vendors) to pay personal expenses, would any of my conservative friends like to explain why she belongs in the Senate anyway? "

    Because she'd fit right in?

  2. St. Gidget: A daring new touchy-feely in Brave New World

    The charge of "sneak thief" just adds to the sexy charm of St. Gidget.

    Oh sure, once she played with tides, witchcraft, and hunky men…

    She was quick like a rabbit and bouncy like a bunny…

    All lips and hair and eyes…

    Daddy's little girl

    What a hot vulnerable fire!

    Moaning on the alter of hell…

    But not now…

    Oh don't you dare bad boy!

    Her repressed sexuality is now meant to bubble in your brain…

    She shall not be manhandled! Oh my!

    Don't even think about it boys and girls…

    You can't have her.

    And you are not the boss of her…

    No. No. No. No…

    The Party of No knows the best dirty talk of all:

    From the heights of denial's ecstasy:

    I love it when you tell me no!

    So put away your Malthusian belts boys…

    And your Alpha-Plus Ayn Rand logic…

    St. Gidget isn't about what's right or wrong…

    For Ford's sake! All intellectual arguments lose here…

    The whole hot focus of this touchy-feely is this boob's untouchable boobs…

    You can't have 'em…

    You can't have 'em…

    You can't have 'em…

    Don't you want 'em the more?

  3. "But what’s the innocent explanation for putting her gas and bowling (!) bills on the campaign tab?"

    That she campaigned at a bowling alley, and drove there? Seriously, though, I recently was surprised to learn that unemployed candidates for federal office are allowed to pay themselves a salary out of their campaign donations, provided they don't exceed some function of the pay they earned the year before. Makes sense, I suppose: How else could anybody who wasn't independently wealthy afford to campaign full time?

    Not saying this would fall under that, I don't know. But it was a bit of a revelation.

  4. That she campaigned at a bowling alley, and drove there?

    Brett, the effectiveness of campaign events diminishes markedly after the election has happened.

    Now, in theory I suppose you could hold fundraisers to retire campaign debt, and charge the campaign for the expenses of those fundraisers (as John Oliver and Andy Zalzman love to point out in their podcast, you can still donate to Rudy Giuliani's 2008 primary campaign, 30 months after it ended, and I suppose the webhosting expenses of the Giuliani For President website might therefore still remain a legitimate expense for that campaign treasury). But if you read the link it's pretty clear that wasn't the case here: she was just stealing from the campaign kitty, months after the election.

  5. She would be one more vote for the conservative side, whereas her opponent would be one more vote on the liberal side. The fact (if it is a fact) that she's a crook is of secondary importance.

    If a squeaky-clean Tea Partier was running against a known Democratic crook like William Jefferson or Dan Rostenkowski, would you all vote for the Tea Partier? Or even withhold your vote from the Democratic crook? Even if it meant giving the Republicans a majority in the Senate? I very much doubt it. I think you would look at what you perceive as the greater good, just as they think they're doing.

  6. If a squeaky-clean Tea Partier was running against a known Democratic crook like William Jefferson or Dan Rostenkowski, would you all vote for the Tea Partier? Or even withhold your vote from the Democratic crook? Even if it meant giving the Republicans a majority in the Senate? I very much doubt it. I think you would look at what you perceive as the greater good, just as they think they’re doing.

    And there you have it, ladies and germs: the self-negating argument! I mean, you do realize that we've done the experiment, don't you? I give you Wikipedia:

    Jefferson was defeated in the general election on December 6, 2008 in a major upset by Republican nominee Cao, who had endorsements from several prominent Democrats including Moreno and City Councilwomen Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and Stacy Head. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin endorsed Jefferson. Cao won by three percentage points. Jefferson thus became only the third Democratic incumbent since the end of Reconstruction to lose to a Republican at the federal level in Louisiana.

    Mind you, I think it's an indictment of the Democratic voters of his district that Jefferson, after taking 25% of the vote in the first round of the primary in a crowded field, managed to secure the Democratic nomination in a run-off (albeit aided by the closed primary and the huge turnout of low-information voters on the day of the 2008 general election) – but after the primaries were over, a little-known Republican nominee won a seat in an overwhelmingly Democratic district precisely because many Dems refused to support Jefferson, with some even backing Cao. These recent historical events rather eviscerate your hypothetical.

    Now, Jefferson was an incredibly blatant crook, and you probably shouldn't have brought him up. More garden-variety or more genteel corruption, of the sort engaged in by the late Jack Murtha or the late Dan Rostenkowski, or on the Republican side the sort practiced by Bob Ney and other friends of Jack Abramoff, generally tends to have far less electoral impact. But in all of those cases we're also talking about established incumbent members of Congress, who have established political machines and have friends and supplicants throughout their districts, engaging in practices that are harder to communicate than "$100,000 in the freezer" or "stole money from a campaign warchest for her personal expenses, long after the campaign was over".

    The point is, that O'Donnell is self-evidently a clown, a profoundly unserious candidate. If the corporate moderation of Castle was so offensive, I'm sure some competent, honest, firebreathing rightwinger could have been found to run in the Primary – but instead, the Tea Partiers have lumbered their ticket with someone whose success is an utter embarrassment to American public life.

  7. To quote Tbogg:

    … if it came out tomorrow that Christine O’Donnell had given herself a home abortion and sold the fetus to cannibals so she could buy meth, many Tea Baggers and conservatives would be falling all over themselves complimenting her plucky can-do attitude and her entrepreneurial spirit.

  8. I was not aware that Cao was a teabagger, or that all the voters in Jefferson's district were samefacts readers. Your story is irrelevant. Would YOU, or Mark, or any like-minded readers, given that 50 other senators were Republicans and 49 were Democrats, vote for Senator O'Donnell or Senator Jefferson?

    And, yes, it's hard to imagine that there couldn't have been a better Tea Party candidate than O'Donnell, but the question was "why she belongs in the Senate anyway?" The primary is over, and the candidates we have are the candidates we have. The next Senator from Delaware will either be the teabagger or the commie.

    And Jefferson was indeed much worse than O'Donnell, or Rostenkowski, or just about anybody. That means that if you would prefer a Democratic Senate with Jefferson to a teabag Senate, you really don't have any business criticizing a Republican for voting for O'Donnell.

    I am also reminded of the race in 1991 when David Duke nearly won the gubernatorial primary. The other side actually campaigned with "vote for the crook."

    The point is that ideology often counts more than character.

  9. Sr, you are bringing up David Duke as an argument that ideology counts more than character?

    I personally can fault David Duke on both ideology and character. So yes, I'd vote for the guy who merely fails at character.

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