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UPDATE: It seems that Ms. O'Donnell is not guilty of fraud, but rather simple lying. It turns out that Ms. O'Donnell is the only person who calls it a graduate fellowship. Claremont itself just calls it the Lincoln Fellowship.
We all know that Christine O'Donnell is an extremist and more than a little bit nutty. But apparently she is also guilty of the outright fraud of accepting a graduate fellowship before she graduated college.

See below for the details:

According to O'Donnell's campaign website's biography she:

was awarded a 2002 Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute in Claremont, CA.

Big surprise, I know -- the Claremont Institute funding a movement conservative.

But here's where it gets interesting: According to her Wikipedia entry she didn't actually receive her Bachelor's degree until this year!

She attended her university's commencement ceremony in 1993 but did not receive a degree. O'Donnell later said the degree was withheld due to unpaid tuition.[nb 2][17]  In 1994, Fairleigh Dickinson sued her for $4,823, winning a judgment for the entire amount according to court documents. The debt was paid in 2003.[3][16][17] After O'Donnell completed a required course in the summer of 2010,[16] Fairleigh Dickinson awarded her a bachelor's degree in English literature,[15][16][17] with a concentration in communication.[15]

If that's true, she accepted a presumably multi-thousand dollar graduate fellowship on the self-evidently fraudulent grounds that she was actually a college graduate.

While this is probably beyond the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, this seems like a very clear-cut case of academic and financial fraud. It also should be pretty easy to fact check.

So again, while it doesn't appear that she defrauded Claremont, she was clearly lying to her voters by claiming she had received a bachelor's degree that she had not received (in her 2006 and 2008 campaign web bios -- see comments) and by calling the Lincoln Fellowship the "Lincoln Graduate Fellowship." It's particularly odd that she would do that, because it's presumably a fairly prestigious fellowship that would look good (to conservatives) on her resume without any further embellishment.

Originally posted to JoelBloom on Mon Sep 20, 2010 at 07:25 AM PDT.

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