Sunday, February 08, 2009

# Posted 11:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  


The Post ran a front page story on Saturday about alleged violations of campaign finance laws by RNC Chairman Michael Steele's 2006 Senate campaign.

Steele defended himself on ABC:
[GEORGE] STEPHANOPOULOS: You just got elected of the Republican National Committee last week...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... yet you're already facing some headlines about potential financial irregularities in your past. The Washington Post yesterday...


STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and I want to give you a chance to respond to these allegations -- here was the Washington Post yesterday. It says that "Steele's campaign spending is questioned." It goes on to say, "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."

Is that true?

STEELE: No, it's not true. And -- and -- and those allegations were leveled by a convicted felon who is trying to get a reduced sentence on his -- on his conviction.

And the reality of it is that the U.S. attorney, as well as the judge, looked at what he presented and did not apply it, said there was no credibility to it. The Washington Post ought to be ashamed of itself for getting out in front of something without all the facts.

To the extent that we gave the Washington Post the documentation to show the receipts that were -- that were used and applied towards the $37,000, it was a legitimate reimbursement of expenses. If my sister had not been reimbursed, I and she would have been in violation of McCain-Feingold finance law.

Steele sounded extremely confident and on top of the situation. One small item he didn't seem to know about was why the $37,000 was transferred to his sister's firm after she had filed papers to dissolve it legally.

If no evidence emerges of any misdoing, beyond the allegations of a convicted felon, the WaPo should be deeply embarrassed. Yes, the Post was clear that the accusations against Steele were made by a felon seeking leniency. But when the best paper in the country puts a story about alleged corruption on page one, it gives the story legitimacy. It forces interviewers to ask Steele about the story as opposed to talking about policy issues.

For all I know, there could be more to this story. It's only in the past few months that Democrats have dominated the scandal pages.
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