September 23, 2005

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Illegally Tapped Into Republican's Credit History

This is interesting:

BALTIMORE -- Federal prosecutors have opened an inquiry into allegations that two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee employees illegally tapped into Lt. Gov. Michael Steele's credit history.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter David Collins reported the workers obtained the report in July while executing opposition research on the lieutenant governor.

In June, the Republican lieutenant governor announced he had established an exploratory committee to explore a candidacy for the U.S. Senate. Paul D. Ellington, Steele's chief of staff, issued a statement late Wednesday afternoon in reaction to the allegations.

According to the FBI, two Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee employees illegally obtained Steele's credit report.

Those familiar with the incident, say Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner were working on opposition research in July. They found Steele's Social Security number in a court document and used it to obtain his credit report.

"It's extremely unethical," said Evan Hendricks, the author of "Credit Scores Credit Reports." "This is a case of a couple very bright researchers, so smart, ending up doing the stupidest thing they could have done."

Hendricks, a privacy expert who has written books on the subject, said that without authorization, those snooping would have had to misrepresent themselves.

"There's lies involved one way or the other. The law is very clear on this," Hendricks said.

Collins reported that the two employees have since resigned and committee officials said they have destroyed the document. The committee said they have immediately reported the incident to the Washington, D.C., U.S. Attorney's Office, and have since issued an apology.

Hmmm.... doesn't sound too ethical to me. I wonder if this was standard operating procedure before they were caught? I wonder who else at the DSCC knew about this? Did Chuck Schumer know?

It does not, at first glance, appear that there was any cover-up, so this will likely be the end of the matter. We will have to wait to see what, if anything, comes of this.
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