Officials with the Christine O'Donnell campaign told me today they don't know who or what is behind what O'Donnell claims is a false LinkedIn profile that's become the source of a whole ton
of negative publicity for Delaware's Republican Senate nominee. One high-level official, who spoke on background before referring me to the communications staff, was quick to mention past instances where, the official said, false information about O'Donnell has been posted by her enemies in the hopes of tarnishing her image before the primary. The campaign's communications guy, Chris Merola, told me that the campaign is still deciding how to proceed with setting the record straight.
The LinkedIn account appears to be down as of this posting, but no one at the campaign immediately responded to requests for comment on the status of the profile.
O'Donnell disavowed the public profile -- which links her to at least two institutions of higher education that she did not attend -- in a statement
released to reporters earlier today. When I asked where the profile could have come from, the campaign official offered no potential source but pointed out past instances when he said O'Donnell's enemies in the state GOP had posted disparaging comments about her on the internet under false names.
"We don't know," Merola told me when I asked him if he thought something malicious was behind the profile. "I don't want to speculate."
Merola said that the campaign was investigating the profile but gave no insights into what that investigation looks like. "We're considering all our options now," he said. "We haven't made a decision on what we're gonna do just yet."
[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O'Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]
Greg Sargent, who first reported on the LinkedIn profile, wrote today that the O'Donnell camp expressed no concern over the profile's provenance until today. I asked Merola why O'Donnell officials didn't dismiss it as a fake right away.
"All I know is what the statement is," he said. "I can't give you anything beyond what the statement is."
Late Update: LinkedIn took down the profile and gave Sargent this explanation:
"We have taken the profile down. That's all we are confirming," LinkedIn spokesperson Shannon Stubo emailed me. "It was taken down in response to Christine O'Donnell's request. This is not an acknowledgment that the profile was fake."