But it turns out that half of the commission thought that there was reason to believe that O'Donnell had indeed broken the law and wanted to open a full investigation. The three Republican commissioners didn't want to probe the issue any further, and since the commission was deadlocked, they dismissed the complaint.
The Republican members' decision went against the recommendations of the general counsel for the FEC, who found there was reason to believe that O'Donnell accepted excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated expenditures from TeaPartyExpress.org.
The FEC's General Counsel said there was enough evidence for a probe to move forward, citing a Facebook posting by Evan Quietsch, the press secretary for O'Donnell's committee, which indicated he spoke with Tea Party Express daily.
In a statement of reasons they voted to probe the issue, the Democratic members of the FEC said there was a "sufficient basis to investigate this matter."
"Respondents' counsel acknowledged O'Donnell's appearance at the press conference on September 7,2010, but generally denied any other appearances at TPAC events or communication between TPAC and O'Donnell or Committee staff. This statement, however, is contradicted by both Quietsch's statement and the video of O'Donnell's appearance at an apparent second TPAC event on September 1," they wrote.
"Here, the campaign press secretary represented to a radio station employee that he spoke daily with the third party paying for a supposedly independent communication on that radio station," they wrote. "If that is not enough information to begin an investigation into coordination, it is unclear what would be enough."