On January 5, 2015, the Federal Election Commission filed suit against Christine O’Donnell, Friends of Christine O’Donnell and Matthew Moran, in his official capacity as treasurer. The FEC alleges that the defendants impermissibly converted at least $20,000 in campaign funds to the personal use of Christine O’Donnell. The FEC seeks declaratory, injunctive and other appropriate relief, including an order requiring Ms. O’Donnell to disgorge the converted funds.
In January 2010, Friends of Christine O’Donnell (the Committee) rented a three-bedroom townhouse in Greenville, Delaware, to use as headquarters during O’Donnell’s 2010 campaign for Senate. The Committee continued to use the townhouse after the November election.
Ms. O’Donnell lived on the upper floors of the townhouse, above the campaign offices, for at least ten months. During that time, the Committee paid rent and utilities for the townhouse, including payments to Comcast for communications services and to Delmarva Power for electricity. According to its FEC reports, the Committee paid rent and utilities totaling in excess of $20,000 during that time, and received reimbursements of $770 from Ms. O’Donnell in April, June, August and September of 2010 and again in March of 2011.
The Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations define “personal use” as the use of campaign funds “to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office.” 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b)(2). Mortgage, rent and utility payments for any part of a candidate’s personal residence are specifically prohibited. 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b)(2); 11 CFR 113.1(g)(1)(i)(E); see also Expenditures; Reports by Political Committees; Personal Use of Campaign Funds; Final Rule, 60 Fed. Reg. 7862, 7865 (Feb. 9, 1995).
The Commission received a formal complaint and initiated enforcement proceedings on September 20, 2010. Later, the Commission found reason to believe that the defendants had violated 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b), and then probable cause to believe that respondents had violated the statute. Unable to secure acceptable conciliation agreements with the defendants, the Commission voted 6-0 to authorize this suit against the defendants.
The Commission seeks a declaration that defendants’ conversion of funds to personal use was a violation of 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b). The FEC further seeks a permanent injunction against similar future violations by the defendants and appropriate civil penalties against the defendants, as well as an order requiring Ms. O’Donnell to disgorge the converted funds.
- FEC v. O'Donnell litigation page