msnbc | December 29, 2010
>>> and patt buchanan. let's start with christine o'donnell, this criminal probe over 20 grand in campaign funds, hardly a drauop in the bucket. others would say, innocent until proven guilty , obviously. what's it all about, richard ? why did it take until now to actually file these types of charges?
>> this shouldn't come as news to anybody. look, during the campaign, thomas , we saw a very well-documented report that she had fallen behind on the mortgage at her house and it had gone into foreclosure. there was an irs lien because she had not paid her taxes. she had not paid the university that she claimed to have graduated from, which is why they were withholding her degree. and it was reported that her rent was being paid out of campaign contributions . that's now in the cross hairs. people get in the public eye and they think the laws don't apply to them. remember, gary hart said follow me and people did follow him and found he was up to kind of no good. and i think christine o'donnell felt seemingly immune from the fact that, yeah, the laws did apply to her and it may be catching up with her.
>> pat, what is your reaction to that? do you feel the same way?
>> i think there may be a sillier charge i've heard, but i can't think of it right now. thomas , look. this lady raised $7.5 million over two months, spending it in a hectic campaign. people coming in and out. we are talking about 1/3 of 1% of the funds, which she may have used to pay her rent. i don't know whether that's illegal or not. i know guys in campaigns that paid themselves salaries out of their campaign funds. every campaign i've been in, they've got auditors come walking in afterwards. they go over the books for months and then they say, look at this, look at this, look at this. you're going to be fined. even hillary clinton got it. this -- i mean, i really think this citizens for responsibility and ethics in government, who are these people? if the fbi, quite frankly, and the federal prosecutors are looking into whether this woman paid her rent with campaign funds, then they don't have much to do.
>> pat, do you think this a case of a politician asking for forgiveness rather than asking for -- filing the proper permission ahead of time?
>> but, you know, people -- let me tell you, thomas . i don't know -- i know a lot about federal campaign laws. i don't know everything about details. they come in and they say this was okay, that wasn't, this was okay. therefore, you owe us a fine of $35,000. i mean, people in campaigns, primaries like presidential primaries and her campaign especially, which is basically a two-month campaign after she won the primary, i mean, i'm astonished that that's all that's there.
>> so, richard , what do you think? as you said earlier, she was begging people to look into her and follow me, follow me. if they continue to dig and this is all that they have found, do you think this is really some type of witch hunt , pardon the pun?
>> yeah. well, we don't know whether it's all they found. all we know is this is the initial basis for the investigation. and is there is deminmous threshold? if you're -- if your problem is under a six-figure amount, we let it go? no. christine o'donnell spent the campaign saying we need to observe the constitution, observe the laws in this country and then she thumbed her nose at those very laws in these ways in which she was behind in her tax payments. you know, i don't know exactly what the laws stipulate. i do believe that there are some things that are lawful and some tha things that are not. i don't know that paying your own rent out of campaign funds, whether that's lawful.
>> richard is exactly right. is it lawful? i don't know. but why are we criminalizing politics? why not say you shouldn't have done that, miss. you've got to pay a civil fine . but to call in the fbi and the u.s. attorney , do they have nothing better to do in the state of delaware than to see if christine paid her rent?
>> but you're the one that pointed out she raised $7.5 million in a couple of months. if that much influx of cash is coming in in little delaware , as you pointed out, isn't there reason to believe that we should find out where $7.5 million went?
>> sure. look, i don't disa groo agree with the audits. i'm sure she made mistakes in her campaign. hillary rodham clinton made big mistakes in her campaign. i don't know a big campaign that don't come down to the end where all of us made mistakes. we shouldn't have paid for this, we should have okayed this. that's all it is.
>> here biggest mistake is she didn't get elected.
>> that's the biggest mistake of delaware , not her.
>> well, we'll put that one on you. gentlemen, thank you for joining us. we've got to run to commercial break. i've got so many questions for you guys, but we got all hung up in delaware . thanks so much, guys.