Christine O'Donnell and the Grassroots Mattress

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 3 2010 12:01 PM

Christine O'Donnell and the Grassroots Mattress

Republican strategists are poring over Christine O'Donnell's latest FEC filing for evidence that her campaign is a shell game. Their preferred evidence -- the campaign office, the address of which O'Donnell is keeping under wraps for fear of campaign operatives laying in wait outside, is a residential home. (I won't post the address here, but it's there if you dig for it.) Her disbursements include rent payments for the house, as well as a $545.98 charge to Mattress Giant.

So what's happening with her finances? According to the campaign, O'Donnell uses the rented home as a campaign office and crash pad for volunteers, who sleep on the second and third floors. Is that unusual for a campaign with a tiny budget? Well, I've seen it before -- Sharron Angle ran her campaign from her home before breaking out of the pack, for example. The mattress charge, I'm told, is for a bed that a staffer uses instead of shelling out for a hotel.


"It's yet another baseless, classless attack," said O'Donnell spokesman Matt Moran. "We're trying to be fiscally responsible to our donors by housing our staff."

The O'Donnell campaign argues -- and it has radio host Mark Levin backing it up -- that the GOP establishment is trying to make a scandal out of the cost-saving measures of a grassroots campaign that it ignored until this week.

A few other notes from the FEC filing -- the respected D.C. PR firm Shirley & Bannister is being paid to deal with the press, and O'Donnell paid $750 to Americans for Prosperity to appear at a convention. I've seen this a lot in 2010 -- a candidate who would never have a shot in a normal year making the activist rounds to generate excitement. What's new in Delaware is the impressive message war by Republicans who are having some success in convincing activists (if you go by conservative bloggers) that O'Donnell's not worth their time.


David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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