Educating Christine O’Donnell: LinkedIn-Gate, Lawsuits And Late Degrees Color Senate Hopeful’s Resume

September 30, 2010 9:05 a.m.

Republican Christine O’Donnell is a perennial Senate candidate who seems to have enrolled in plenty of courses, certificate programs and think tank seminars to further her political ambitions.

Her frequent television appearances have surfaced on perma-reel as she tries to win over Delaware voters, and now, so has her checkered educational history. It’s all sort of cloudy, and without O’Donnell sitting down with the press to clarify things it’s hard to know exactly what’s real, what’s exaggerated and what’s all just a misunderstanding.

[TPM SLIDESHOW: Christine O’Donnell: Anti-Masturbation Crusader. Witchcraft Dabbler. Republican Senate Nominee.]

So, after the jump, TPM breaks down O’Donnell’s actual education, and all the various claims she has made about it.We’ve chronicled extensively that a LinkedIn page which appeared to be O’Donnell’s listed wrong information about her attendance in a program held on Oxford’s campus and wrongly characterized a fellowship that had the name Claremont in the title.

O’Donnell says the LinkedIn profile is not her own and the company removed it last night without verifying her claim. But today new information surfaced in a ZoomInfo profile that includes similar but not identical language about her education.

A ZoomInfo spokesman told Huffington Post the information was provided by O’Donnell.

The profile was last updated in March but appears to have been written sometime in 2008 before Joe Biden was the vice presidential nominee.

Here’s LinkedIn:

Here’s ZoomInfo:

O’Donnell’s current campaign site says of her education:

After attending Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ, Christine was awarded a 2002 Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute in Claremont, CA. She resides in Wilmington, DE.

Her 2008 campaign site:

Christine was awarded a 2002 Abraham Lincoln Graduate Fellowship in Constitutional Government from the Claremont Institute in Claremont, CA and majored in English and Communications at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, NJ.

Her 2008 campaign MySpace page lists Fairleigh thusly: Graduated: N/A, Student status: Alumni

Her 2006 campaign site calls her a “graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University.”

O’Donnell attended Fairleigh in the 1990s, but only earned her degree Sept. 1. The New Jersey-based school has told the press she owed $4,000 in unpaid tuition and that’s why she didn’t graduate in 1994. She paid the debt in 2003 and received a diploma a few weeks ago after finishing “an additional course,” the Delaware News Journal reported.

Politico reported that was a “general elective course,” though she’d told reporters in March the school was withholding the diploma because of unpaid student loans and said she’d “finished the coursework.” Her campaign told Politico that O’Donnell met with Farleigh President Michael Adams after her 2008 campaign to get her degree in order.

Then there’s Princeton. In a July 1, 2005 complaint summarized nicely here by the conservative Weekly Standard, O’Donnell charged that her employer the Intercollegiate Studies Institute had discriminated against her in part by losing out on the chance to earn “a Master’s degree from Princeton.” Don’t forget that she at this point had no undergraduate degree.

From the complaint, which O’Donnell filed herself:

Moreover, Miss O’Donnell has lost the increased earning power that a Master’s degree from Princeton would have created. In the future with proper finances, Miss O’Donnell should probably be able to return and complete that program, however that increased earning power has been disrupted and delayed for at least three years, given college application cycles, and the damage to her reputation, creating a loss of increased earning power estimated at up to $50,000 per year, for three lost years at $150,000.

An amended complaint filed by a lawyer and signed by O’Donnell indicated she had considered not taking the job because “she had applied for admission to a Master’s Degree program at Princeton University, to start in the fall of 2003, and was concerned that the ISI position would not fit with her plans.”

She wasn’t accepted, the Weekly Standard reported, quoting O’Donnell’s campaign manager Matt Moran. Moran said she “was not admitted to a Masters Degree program at Princeton. She took an undergraduate non-matriculated class at PU on constitutional government.”

O’Donnell told the Associated Press recently that if the lawsuit called it a master’s program, “Well, then my attorney got that wrong.”

Late Update: An excellent catch from over at the Outside the Beltway blog. During that trainwreck of an interview O’Donnell had on Sept. 2 with conservative radio talker Frank Gaffney, she talked about her “graduate” fellowship at Claremont.

From the post:

In regards to O’Donnell’s bachelor’s degree Gaffney asks, around the 14 minute mark, as to whether she received her bachelor’s degree from Farleigh Dickinson University or not.  

Gaffney asked:  “Have you actually been given that degree?” She said “Yeah” and then there was some cross-talk about Mike Castle.  

Then there was the following interchange:
O’Donnell:  It took me over twelve years to pay off my student loans.  From there I went on and I got a constitutional fellowship…a graduate fellowship in constitutional government.  Many people…
Gaffney:  From where?
O’Donnell:  From the Claremont Institute.

Later Update: Turns out O’Donnell’s application to the Claremont Institute included a resume that lists Oxford University. Our post on that, and how it erases any doubt that she claimed the Phoenix program was at Oxford, is here.

TPM also interviewed a man who says he tutored O’Donnell for the Phoenix course. He says she would add intelligence to the Senate. Read the post here for more about what sort of student O’Donnell was.

Additional reporting by David Taintor, Elizabeth Harrison, Johanna Barr, Jon Terbush, Evan McMorris-Santoro, David Kurtz and Megan Carpentier

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