Former Republican Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell illegally used campaign funds to pay her rent and utilities in 2010 and 2011, a federal court in Wilmington, Del., ruled (Federal Election Commission v. O’Donnell
, D. Del., No. 15-17, memorandum opinion
The Sept. 21 decision by Judge Leonard Stark of the U.S. District Court for District of Delaware came in a long-running civil enforcement lawsuit against O’Donnell and her Senate campaign committee. The enforcement case was filed by the Federal Election Commission, which has pursued a number of personal-use cases in recent years.
In 2010, O’Donnell, a conservative activist who identified with the Tea Party wing of the GOP, defeated former Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), a veteran lawmaker, in a Republican Senate primary. O’Donnell lost the general election that year to Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.).
The judge rejected an argument by lawyers for O’Donnell that legal restrictions on personal use of campaign funds are unconstitutional because campaign money is equivalent to free speech. He said O’Donnell’s lawyers failed to explain how the long-standing personal-use prohibition in the Federal Election Campaign Act “restricts or limits political speech.”…