O'Donnell claims she was 'preyed upon' in Senate race

Jonathan Starkey
The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
Christine O'Donnell wants political supporters to help fund her legal fight against the Federal Election Commission.
  • Christine O%27Donnell claims state and federal officials %27leaked%27 her tax records%2C which damaged her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign
  • She wrote an op-ed in the New York Post outlining claims that she was victimized in the 2010 campaign
  • It remains unclear why an IRS officials accessed O%27Donnell%27s tax records during the campaign

WILMINGTON, Del. — Delaware Tea Party star Christine O'Donnell is at it again, attempting to raise money and generate sympathy by claiming she was victimized by the IRS and Delaware's Division of Revenue.

O'Donnell wrote an op-ed for the New York Post on Saturday, saying she was "preyed upon" by state and federal officials who "leaked" her private tax records, resulting in damage to her 2010 U.S. Senate campaign.

She refers as evidence to a publicly available federal tax lien that was filed in New Castle County as the IRS audited O'Donnell's 2005 tax return for unpaid federal taxes. The News Journal wrote about O'Donnell's financial problems, including the lien, in a March 20, 2010, article.

O'Donnell's op-ed came just days after O'Donnell sent another fundraising plea to supporters, writing "I am so tired of this bull crap!."

O'Donnell sought $50,000 in October after learning a state revenue official accessed her federal tax records as she launched her 2010 campaign. She fell far short of that goal, collecting just under $12,000 from individual contributors through the end of the year.

In Saturday's op-ed, O'Donnell, who toppled Mike Castle in a Republican primary before losing badly in the November general, publicly resurrected her claim that she was the victim of a vast political smear campaign that irreparably damaged her 2010 Senate bid.

"You may not agree with my politics, but is this the kind of precedent Democrats really want to set — that leaking private information is no big deal?" O'Donnell writes.

O'Donnell never explains what she means by "private information," considering the lien was publicly available. O'Donnell later resolved her tax issues, paying a settlement to the IRS.

It remains unclear, however, why a Delaware Department of Revenue official accessed O'Donnell's tax records on March 20, 2010, the same day The News Journal published the article about the candidate's financial difficulties.

David Smith, the revenue official, was given the go-ahead by his boss on a Saturday afternoon to access O'Donnell's records as a "routine" matter, according to the state Finance Department.

U.S. Treasury investigators questioned Smith about the access, and about Smith improperly accessing his own records through the state's system.

"The IRS frowned upon that activity, but in no way had we been previously informed that was a violation of IRS policy," state Finance Secretary Tom Cook said in July. "He could have used better judgment."