O’Donnell’s LinkedIn Profile Raises More Questions; UPDATED: Another Site Lists Oxford?
posted at 10:07 am on September 29, 2010 by Diane Suffern
Remember those fights on the Right we had over Christine O’Donnell’s candidacy? It seems so long ago when conservatives who had serious questions about her credibility were put on a RINO purge list. Ah, well. Water under the bridge, of course.
Most are aware of her previous claims of graduating from Fairleigh Dickinson University and attending graduate-level courses at Princeton. O’Donnell supporters were satisfied with her clarification of owing the school money before she could technically graduate from Fairleigh (receiving her degree only last September). Her explanation for the reality that she hadn’t attended a single course at Princeton? Simple mistake. (I know I mix up my real school history with my fantasies all the time. In lawsuits.)
Yet, on her LinkedIn profile she also lists Claremont Graduate University and University of Oxford as further educational experience:
Gary Scott, former reporter and producer of To the Point, investigated locally:
The same resume lists O’Donnell as having attended Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. The claim seemed suspicious since O’Donnell had yet to receive her undergraduate degree, from Farleigh Dickinson University, until last summer. So I asked CGU’s public relations officer, Rod Leveque, if the school had any record of O’Donnell attending classes there. His response:
In short, no. Claremont Graduate University has no student or education record for an individual named Christine O’Donnell.In 2002, O’Donnell was listed as a “Lincoln Fellow” at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank also based in Claremont. However, the institute is not affiliated with the Claremont Graduate University or any of the other Claremont Colleges. One of the Claremont Institute’s fellows, Harry Jaffa, did teach at the Claremont Graduate University back when it was known as Claremont Graduate School.
Got that? Claremont Institute is a think tank, not a graduate school as she claimed. Quite a difference.
Then there’s Oxford. The Oxford. Greg Sargent of Washington Post’s Plum Line reports:
Asked to account for the claim about Oxford, Diana Banister, a spokesperson for O’Donnell, told me it was a reference to a certificate she obtained from a course at Oxford overseen by the Phoenix Instutute, which “runs summer seminar programs at universities around the world.” The Phoenix Institute defines itself as an institution that runs summer sessions “on three continents” in the quest to answer the question, “What is it to be human?”
But Chris Fletcher, who oversaw the Institute’s 2001 Oxford Summer Programme, which included the course O’Donnell took, tells me the course was not overseen by Oxford.
“We never represented it as a course run by Oxford University,” Fletcher, who is now an assistant professor of religious studies at Benedictine University in Illinois, told me. Fletcher said the only connection to Oxford is that they rented space there and organized some lectures with “guest lecturers from Oxford and Cambridge” as well as from other institutions.
“It wasn’t an official course of Oxford University,” Fletcher said. “It wasn’t sponsored by Oxford University. We rented the space.”
“It was our curriculum, and we did the grades,” Fletcher continued. Fletcher’s conclusion about O’Donnell’s Oxford claim: “It’s misleading.”
Once is misspeaking. Twice is an odd coincidence. (Kindly, please don’t do it again, Ms. O’Donnell.) Three times is clearly an issue. But four or more? That’s a pattern and crosses the threshold into character. For someone with no record, we have only her character to recommend her. Because of the high-profile endorsements she garnered, based on said character and her word alone, she’s now linked to both the Tea Party movement and Sarah Palin, among others. This isn’t okay.
Admittedly, the Delaware primary wasn’t a simple race to parse. Opinions spanned the gamut with plenty of vitriol on both sides. Yet, can’t we all agree that her habitual “misspeaking” is, at the very least, a problem? This isn’t sexism. This isn’t personal attack. It’s getting ahead of an issue we wouldn’t even tolerate in moderate Republicans, let alone our opponents on the Left. Is our new motto “just words, just speeches” at the expense of reality? Are we changing the rules because she’s “one of our own” and we’re hoping for a win? Why, that seems remarkably…pragmatic.
See Patterico’s related post and other articles on O’Donnell here.
UPDATE: LinkedIn profile is fake? Katrina Trinko at NRO posted this statement from the O’Donnell campaign:
There have been reports that I have released false information on a LinkedIn profile under my name. This is categorically untrue. I never established a LinkedIn profile, or authorized anyone to do so on my behalf. I have always been clear about my educational background. I completed undergraduate work at Fairleigh Dickenson University. After my undergraduate work, I completed a summer program run by the Phoenix Institute, at the Institute’s Oxford University location. The Institute runs programs around the world at various universities, and participants study issues of human dignity. I also completed a Lincoln Fellowship at the Claremont Institute in Claremont, CA. We would encourage LinkedIn to remove this profile.
Trinko also quotes Greg Sargent’s response to statement:
As the person who first reported yesterday on the Oxford claim on O’Donnell’s LinkedIn profile, let me be clear: I asked O’Donnell’s spokesperson, Diane Banister, for comment on the profile’s Oxford claim last Friday. Banister never once claimed the profile wasn’t put up by O’Donnell. Indeed, in response to my inquiry, Banister justified the claim on the LinkedIn profile by pointing to O’Donnell’s stint at Phoenix University.
Nor did O’Donnell’s spox dispute that the LinkedIn profile was hers when I again emailed her yesterday to let her know I was close to publishing.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent at WaPo reports LinkedIn’s response to O’Donnell:
LinkedIn has now responded to Christine O’Donnell’s claim that she had no role in posting her online bio, which falsely claimed she studied at Oxford. But right now, LinkedIn says, it’s not yet in a position to determine whether or not O’Donnell is telling the truth.
“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.”
To reiterate: O’Donnell’s campaign spokesperson didn’t indicate that the profile was unauthorized when I contacted her for comment last week, or when I contacted her yesterday before publishing.
UPDATE: Patterico notes here:
Since O’Donnell says the LinkedIn page was not created by her, or anyone acting at her direction, it’s time we uncovered the imposter. Someone has gone to great lengths to build a lengthy, mostly accurate profile of Ms. O’Donnell, which included subtle puffery about her educational background. Assuming this person is not Ms. O’Donnell, this is a clever plot, as it feeds into the narrative that she has previously fibbed about her education. If we take Ms. O’Donnell at her word, then whoever perpetrated this travesty is likely an identity thief out to destroy Ms. O’Donnell’s reputation. I assume we all agree that this person must be exposed.
How the imposter got O’Donnell’s spokespeople to initially react as though the profile was hers, I’m not sure. It just goes to show that his or her access to Ms. O’Donnell may be more intimate than anyone imagines.
Meanwhile, O’Donnell’s imposter had 84 connections on her LinkedIn page (which has now been deleted — but don’t worry, there are screengrabs all over the Internet and the cache is still alive here). Perhaps one of those people managed to communicate with the imposter. These communications might reveal something about the imposter’s identity.
He’s right, of course. If someone is fraudulently creating highly-detailed, favorable social networking sites for active politicians, this could be a criminal offense and the perpetrator should face charges. I urge both O’Donnell and LinkedIn to file a report and cooperate with law enforcement immediately. This is tantamount to identity theft and certainly qualifies as cyber crime and all of us should be concerned. We’re all Christine O’Donnell now!