Steele weighs suing over effort to get his credit report

March 23, 2006|By JENNIFER SKALKA | JENNIFER SKALKA,SUN REPORTER

A lawyer for Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele said yesterday that Steele is considering whether he will sue a former staffer for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and possibly the committee itself if additional questions are not answered this week about the employee's efforts to obtain his credit report.

E. Mark Braden, who is representing Steele and worked as counsel to the Republican National Committee during the 1980s, said he wants to know whether Lauren B. Weiner, who is expected to plead guilty to a misdemeanor tomorrow in federal court, shared the information she found with her Democratic colleagues or others.

In a letter sent yesterday to the chief of the fraud and public corruption section of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, Braden asked if Steele's credit report was sent to other individuals, employees or officers within the Democratic committee. He also asked if the credit information Weiner discovered contained information about Steele's family.

"What type of assurances can the FBI/DOJ [Department of Justice] give to the Lt. Gov. and his family that the credit report or information contained in the credit report was not distributed to a universe of persons within or outside the DSCC?" Braden wrote.

As a deputy researcher responsible for looking into Steele's background, Weiner, 25, used Steele's Social Security number to obtain his credit report last summer.

Weiner and a supervisor, Katie Barge, resigned after officials at their committee learned about the incident.

William E. Lawler III, Barge's attorney, said that it appeared unlikely she would be charged with a crime but that federal investigators consider her a witness.

"It strikes me as a political pronouncement rather than as a serious legal concern," Lawler said of Braden's statements.

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