Steele's personal finances were an issue four years ago, when he was running for lieutenant governor. At the time, he owned a consulting business that he acknowledged made little money, and foreclosure proceedings were filed against his home. He has since resolved the matter, he said.
Behind in most recent polls by double digits, Steele is using the credit report theft as part of his most recent fundraising push.
"From stealing my credit report to endless personal attacks, Congressman Cardin just can't seem to have a real debate on the issues important to our state," Steele said in a letter sent to supporters yesterday asking for donations. "He'd prefer to follow the lead of Democrat party bosses like Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean and continue with the lies, the personal smears, and even the illegal activities they're using to defeat me."
A recent Steele television ad continues the theme, showing him standing with metal trash cans, saying, "Ben Cardin's team hacks into my credit report ... steals my Social Security number. Oh yeah: They pled guilty in federal court."
The candidates will meet Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 in the only remaining scheduled head-to-head debates. One will be taped and later air on Channel 8 in the Washington market. The latter meeting is on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert.