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March 25, 2006
Stealing Steele Sinks Schumer's Staffer

The low-key saga of Chuckaquiddick continued yesterday with the guilty plea of Laura Weiner, a staffer at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chaired by Chuck Schumer, for impersonating Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele and stealing his credit report by fraud. The Washington Post reports on the extent to which she misrepresented herself in order to gain access to Steele's personal information:

A Democratic researcher pleaded guilty yesterday to misrepresenting herself on a Web site as Michael S. Steele, Maryland's lieutenant governor and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and fraudulently obtaining his credit report last summer.

Under a plea agreement reached with prosecutors, the misdemeanor charge against Lauren B. Weiner, a former staff member of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, could be dropped in a year if she completes 150 hours of community service and commits no other offenses. ...

According to the prosecutor's statement, which Weiner said was accurate, she used Steele's Social Security number to access his credit report on a Web site designed to let people view their reports.

Weiner pretended that she was Steele, even creating an e-mail address -- -- needed to obtain the report, the statement said. She also agreed to the "terms of service" on the site, which included a warning "not to impersonate another person."

According to the statement, Weiner's superiors were notified within hours of the episode, and the report was destroyed the next morning before it could be disseminated. Weiner and her boss, the committee's director of research, later resigned.

The DSCC, in a statement released yesterday, said that it had acted in an "exemplary manner" in not using the stolen credit report. If the best we can get for "exemplary" is a promise not to use stolen personal information while continuing to employ the thieves that got it, then the Democrats will really have a tough time running on ethics in November. It took months for Weiner and her superior, Katie Barge to exit the DSCC, whether by resignation or termination. Nor did they disclose the theft to Michael Steele. That kind of reaction puts the DSCC at odds with the public orations of its chair, who co-authored the Schumer-Nelson ID Theft Prevention Bill, which criminalizes precisely the actions Weiner took -- and the DSCC covered up.

Steele may yet file civil charges against Weiner, which will force everyone involved to give depositions about their role in the theft and the cover-up. For instance, Weiner used a DSCC credit card in the transaction. Who gave her authorization to do so? Why wasn't that caught by the DSCC when they reviewed their expenditures, which have to be reported to the FEC in detail? In fact, did that expenditure ever get reported to the FEC at all?

Weiner's plea bargain doesn't close this case at all. It reminds us that we don't yet know the full story, and perhaps only a lawsuit by the victim will reveal the extent of the dirty-tricks operation at the DSCC.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 25, 2006 8:45 AM

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