Scandal for Steele?

posted at 12:38 pm on February 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When the RNC elected Michael Steele as its chair, Republicans hoped that Steele could represent a new start for the GOP after two successive national defeats.  Instead, the party has another dance with potential scandal.  Federal investigators have begun looking into claims that Steele diverted campaign funds from his 2006 Senatorial run in Maryland to family members, but the Post has found at least some support for Steele as well:

Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.

Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.

The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.

Steele spokesman Curt Anderson said he did not know what information the federal agents were seeking, but he dismissed Fabian’s allegations as patently false. “It’s from, what, a convicted felon? And it has no substantiation in fact,” he said. …

The recent allegations outlined four specific transactions. In addition to the payment to Steele’s sister, Fabian said that the candidate used money from his state campaign improperly; that Steele paid $75,000 from the state campaign to a law firm for work that was never performed; and that he or an aide transferred more than $500,000 in campaign cash from one bank to another without authorization.

The bank transfer was made against the explicit wishes of other Maryland Republicans, who had hoped to use it to support the campaigns of state legislators, said aides to Steele and former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Well, this is just perfect.  And it’s not the first time this issue appeared, as Matt Lewis notes today.  Our friend Rob Bluey mentioned money problems with Steele a month ago, although not these specific problems:

Steele boasts that his chairmanship of GOPAC qualifies him to run the RNC. He cites GOPAC’s work to elect Republicans as good preparation. So how did GOPAC fare under Steele’s leadership? During the 2008 cycle, GOPAC gave 11 candidates seeking U.S. House seats nearly $20,000. Six won and five lost. (See my update, “The Tale of Two GOPACs.”)

Among GOPAC’s expenditures in 2008 was $5,000 to Steele for Maryland, even though Steele wasn’t on the ballot. The money probably went to pay off Steele’s 2006 campaign debt. It also happened to be the third largest expenditure for GOPAC, raising questions about the organization’s priorities under his leadership.

Money has been a problem for Steele in the past. Jennifer Skalka of National Journal’s Hotline reported that when Steele’s consulting business struggled financially, two banks threatened to place liens on his house. Although Steele cleared his debts, these financial issues are factors that must be considered for anyone seeking the RNC chairmanship.

Interestingly, the Washington Post only found out about the details of this story when they requested the prosecution sentencing memorandum from the Fabian case.  The US Attorney accidentally sent them the defense memorandum instead, which had been under seal.  The Post does a good job of presenting Steele’s side of the story as well.  His sister, Monica Turner (at one time Mike Tyson’s wife), told them that this was part of a “get Steele” campaign and shut the door on the reporter, but they also reported that the Steele campaign has invoices for much of the money in question showing Turner’s work for the campaign.

Matt says that Steele has come back from bigger setbacks, and this may turn out to be nothing.  Unfortunately, it will provide at least a distraction while Steele reorganizes the RNC.  We can only hope that the charges prove entirely false and that Steele gets the same level of attention for his vindication as he gets for the accusation.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

I thought immediately of Conrad Black’s trial and conviction. I think we’ll soon hear from Mark Steyn what he thinks of the uncorroborated “cooperation” of men under threat of heavy sentencing.

Kralizec on February 7, 2009 at 8:03 PM

Ed – you just gave AP another person to be tied to the whipping post! He can alternate now between Sarah, Steele and any God loving conservative. Me thinks he’ll be busy mischaracterizing Steeles positon.

Thanks!

Fuquay Steve on February 7, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Hypocrisy, the name is this comment thread. Props, for once, to Ed for being willing to even call this out. Public funds for personal enrichment of family members. Can anyone distinguish between this and what Daley does in Chicago. The MSM didn’t make Michael Steele pay his sister for…doing nothing. If you call liberal bias on this story, you’re a twit. Politicians are corrupt.

DeathToMediaHacks on February 7, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Anyone remember the Sarah Palin email hacking story. That young Netroots Punk David Kernell?

Once the liberal media learned it was the son of a Democrat State Rep. who did it, it became a non-story.

BTW, whatever became of Kernell?

ericdondero on February 7, 2009 at 9:46 PM

BTW, whatever became of Kernell?

ericdondero on February 7, 2009 at 9:46 PM

Kernel = Allahpundit

Fuquay Steve on February 7, 2009 at 10:03 PM

…and that Steele gets the same level of attention for his vindication as he gets for the accusation.

Ed, don’t hold your breath for this one. I don’t think blue would be your color; and we’d miss you around here.

And we’d be better off hoping for something more likely; like aliens coming in peace with advanced technology to ramp up our current tech base and revitalize our economy.

gekkobear on February 7, 2009 at 11:07 PM

I love how people on this board, eat their own. Whether it was the primary or this, when a candidate, no matter how conservative or republican, who had not been picked by people on this message board wins or does well the dogs of war are released. Look at how hysterical all the Romney supporters got on any GOP candidate who was not Romney. Steele will be a great GOP Chair, so lets give him and the party the support it needs. I liked this site better when Michelle did her funny videos and vent and do not like how the comments on this board can be as mean spirited as any on the far left blogs.

arizonateacher on February 8, 2009 at 12:45 AM

Sorry, but I want the moral high ground back and have been enjoying the Democrat tax cheat appointments. Steele needs to go.

Levinite on February 8, 2009 at 1:45 AM

… and that Steele gets the same level of attention for his vindication as he gets for the accusation.

Yea, and you just keep on trying to move that rubber tree Mr. ant.

Gwillie on February 8, 2009 at 7:30 AM

The US Attorney accidentally sent them the defense memorandum instead, which had been under seal.

Sure.

Johan Klaus on February 8, 2009 at 10:53 AM

I love how people on this board, eat their own.

I do not think that this phenomenon is limited to this site. I know that I am painting with a wide brush, Republicans tend to eat their young.

Say what you will about the Democrats. For all of their radical left-wing positions, they’re a united front. They understand that Republicans are their enemy. Republicans tend to throw anyone under the bus that doesn’t fit into their prefect ideological mold.

eaglescout1998 on February 8, 2009 at 11:30 AM

This is just sour grapes from the losers Steel defeated in run for the RNC chair. They got some cronies in the press to drudge this up.

Kjeil on February 8, 2009 at 11:36 AM

Racism!!!!!

notagool on February 8, 2009 at 11:58 AM

IF true – then Steele needs to step down.

popularpeoplesfront on February 8, 2009 at 12:50 PM

And where is the investigation of the millions of dollars worth of illegal campaign contributions to the Obama campaign?

[sarc]I’m just so absolutely relieved that the Justice Department is now in the hands of those who will not politicize it. [/sarc]

philwynk on February 8, 2009 at 3:36 PM

Hypocrisy, the name is this comment thread.

For starters, I could name a dozen better examples of hypocrisy on the left side in a heartbeat. Besides which, I have read commenters here who either

a) jump to the conclusion Steele is guilty, or
b) say that, whether guilty or not, he should immediately resign, or
c) say he should only resign if proven guilty, or
d) express doubts about his innocence, or
e) predict that it’s all an attempted smear by the left

If they’re all hypocrites, then they’re all hypocrites in incompatible ways.

I lean to the simpler theory: you’re a hypocrite for pretending to be shocked by hypocrisy

Props, for once, to Ed for being willing to even call this out. Public funds for personal enrichment of family members. Can anyone distinguish between this and what Daley does in Chicago. The MSM didn’t make Michael Steele pay his sister for…doing nothing.

All of which is based on the presumption that Steele is guilty.

If you call liberal bias on this story, you’re a twit. Politicians are corrupt.

DeathToMediaHacks on February 7, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Coming from someone who believes the media is biased towards conservatives (!?!) I see no reason to take that statement seriously.

ThereGoesTheNeighborhood on February 8, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Good to see that the Republican Culture of Corruption is still going strong!

Vernon Hardapple on February 8, 2009 at 6:28 PM

Hey Vernon,
good to see you’re still around…NOT…
How can you possibly make a statement like that with a straight face when the CHICAGO MACHINE is running the WH…
Are you that naive…

jerrytbg on February 8, 2009 at 7:22 PM

Good to see that the Republican Culture of Corruption is still going strong!

Vernon Hardapple on February 8, 2009 at 6:28 PM

No matter how many times the DemocRats say it (“the Republican culture of corruption”), it’s never true, whereas virtually every one of them in public office is either under subpoena, under indictment and/or documented to be under the pay of special groups and lobbyists to the hilt.

Jenfidel on February 8, 2009 at 7:54 PM

oh he leaves his porch light on during the day too. You better write him up for that. This stuff is the least of a problem when a trillion f’n dollars is about to put this country in unrecoverable debt. This story in no way overshawdows what the dems are pulling but you watch the MSM and what they cover tomorrow.

johnnyU on February 8, 2009 at 8:33 PM

This was the first site to say anything about this story out of the ones I follow and this is the only site that has it on there twice…arent we biting our nose to spite our face???

cappy718 on February 9, 2009 at 8:11 AM

Hypocrisy,

DeathToMediaHacks on February 7, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Your middle name, is he doesn’t pay her, then he is breaking the McCain-Feingold law.
The AG and judges already looked at this and said there was not a problem.
So let’s see who the hypocrite is…will you say that you were wrong and that what Steele did was correct?
Or will you just hide under the rock…

Good to see that the Republican Culture of Corruption is still going strong!

Vernon Hardapple on February 8, 2009 at 6:28 PM

And of course, since the real facts are coming out, and WaPo look like bias fools…you will say what?
That you were fooled into buying into WaPo’s dishonest report…or will you just continue passing on mis-information because you just can’t help yourself.

right2bright on February 9, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Comment pages: 1 2