Judge Rules O'Donnell Violated Campaign Finance Laws - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Judge Rules O'Donnell Violated Campaign Finance Laws

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Christine O'Donnell is shown in this WBOC file photo. Christine O'Donnell is shown in this WBOC file photo.

DOVER, Del. - A federal judge ruled this week that Christine O'Donnell, a former Delaware Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, violated federal campaign finance laws by using campaign contributions to pay her rent.

The ruling was issued Wednesday and came through a lawsuit by the Federal Election Commission, which claimed O'Donnell improperly used at least $20,000 in campaign contributions to pay bills at a townhouse that was also used as her campaign headquarters in 2010.

O'Donnell, who famously defeated longtime Delaware politician and former Congressman Mike Castle in the Republican primary, had claimed she rarely slept at the home and didn't live there, even though space was subleased from the campaign.

Although Judge Leonard Stark found O'Donnell and the committee were liable for unlawful use of campaign funds, he said he couldn't make a determination on much they would have to pay and ordered attorneys to confer and with their positions on the next step.

An email to a spokesperson listed on the ChristinePAC website did not return a request seeking comment. O'Donnell, herself, took to Facebook to respond to the ruling.

"By taking this to trial, we can connect the dots between the IRS scandal and the FEC's abuse of power," she said. "Corruption is being exposed at every level and I'm grateful for the opportunity to take this case to the next level."

Castle declined to comment for this story, though U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Delaware), who defeated O'Donnell in the 2010 General Election, said he believed the judge came to the right decision.

"It's just a reminder that these are complicated rules it's something all candidates have to do, to be careful that they're complying with the rules," he said.

John Fluharty, a strategist for the Delaware Republican State Committee who did not work for the organization until 2012, said the party has moved forward since the 2010 primary.

"I think there were a couple years right after Christine's run that we did have some hard times," he said. "Donors took a walk and they're just coming back to us now."

O'Donnell's upset victory over Castle sent waves through Delaware politics and many within the state Republican committee believe it fractured GOP solidarity.

The Associated Press contributed this report.

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