Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell (R) yesterday told Delaware voters a big fib that she worked for a “nonprofit” when doing marketing for Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” real-world experience that she said claims her best suited to represent the state in office.
“What I do is nonprofit work, I take on clients,” O’Donnell said when asked about critiques she is unqualified in video you can watch below. “I have a very extensive client history from working with Icon Productions at the ‘Passion of the Christ.’”
Yes, the same Icon Productions that shattered box office records with “Passion of the Christ” in 2004. It’s not listed in the nonprofit disclosure databases, and Icon’s own description doesn’t include any mention of being a nonprofit.
CNN captured the video, which as far as we can tell didn’t make it on the air.
Speaking with voters at the small event, O’Donnell also said that her one-week graduate fellowship program from the Claremont Institute is the “number one” experience on her resumé that qualifies her to be a U.S. senator. Then she delved into that “extensive array of nonprofit clients” including Icon, the Vatican’s first female portrait painter Natalia Tsarkova and the World Education and Development Fund.
In a piece earlier this week, TPM explored O’Donnell’s work with “Passion of the Christ” and found the whole thing a bit odd.
We couldn’t find any other references to O’Donnell saying Icon was a nonprofit. Her campaign hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
O’Donnell has described her position with “The Passion of the Christ” in detail:
A devout Catholic, Christine combined her faith with her God given talent working as an independent marketing consultant on Mel Gibson’s breakthrough film The Passion of the Christ. In addition to developing the pre-release marketing campaign and advanced ticketing program, Christine was also the marketing and media director of the book tour for Inside the Passion, the critically acclaimed best seller offering a behind the scenes look at the making of the film.
But as we wrote, it took multiple phone calls for an Icon Productions publicist to admit — while refusing to disclose her own name — that O’Donnell was a “marketing consultant” on the film. Three different Icon representatives declined to detail the nature of O’Donnell’s job, with one saying “no comment, we can’t really verify that, I’m just not talking,” before hanging up on a TPM reporter.
As the Independent caught recently, O’Donnell used to use Gibson’s name on the stump. These days, she drops the controversial actor from her bio.
The Claremont claim that the week-long fellowship is “number one” on her list of experiences also is fascinating given the candidate’s storied educational history. The woman moderating O’Donnell’s event referenced complaints that O’Donnell is not qualified, then asked O’Donnell to explain experiences and activities she feels qualify her to be a senator.
O’Donnell giggled at the question and then explained her qualifications:
I have a graduate fellowship from the Claremont Institute in constitutional govt and it is that deep analysis of the constitution that has helped me to analyze and have an opinion on what is going on today and be able to determine that our leaders in Washington have lost their way and no longer follow the constitutional principles otherwise we wouldn’t have ‘Obamacare’ we wouldn’t have these massive bailouts we wouldn’t be taking over GM.
TPM has interviewed Claremont officials about O’Donnell’s work in the fellowship in 2002. Here’s Claremont’s list of every fellow to participate in the program. Among the politicians on the list is Chuck DeVore, a staunch conservative who lost the Republican Senate nomination this summer in California to Carly Fiorina. (Update: DeVore told us about his time at Claremont.)
After explaining her experience yesterday, O’Donnell pivoted to attacked her rival Democrat Chris Coons as having a “trust fund,” and complained about politicians who “attack you as not being qualified” because you’re not a “career politician groomed from day one.”
Watch the video:
Late Update: TPM interviewed DeVore about his experience at the Claremont Institute. He largely agreed with O’Donnell that it’s a program that can help prepare someone for office. Read our report.
Additional reporting by Megan Carpentier