Steele Considers Suit
A lawyer for Michael S. Steele said today that the lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate candidate may file a civil lawsuit as a means to learn more about an episode in which a Democratic researcher in Washington improperly accessed in his credit report.
Lauren B. Weiner, a former staff member at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, has been charged by federal prosecutors for accessing Steele's report without authorization and is scheduled to appear in court Friday.
During a conference call with reporters, E. Mark Braden, a lawyer for Steele, said the lieutenant governor might sue Weiner and the DSCC if several questions about the episode are not answered during Friday's proceedings, in which Weiner is expected to accept a plea arrangement that could result in charges being dropped in a year.
The episode took place last July as both parties were starting to dig into the backgrounds of candidates in Maryland's marquee races this year. DSCC officials have said Steele's credit report was immediately destroyed after Weiner obtained it and was not disseminated. Weiner and the DSCC's director of research resigned.
In a letter to prosecutors released yesterday, Braden, a former counsel to the Republican National Committee, said several questions remained unanswered, including whether the DSCC is still in possession of any of the information in the report.
"Lt. Gov. Steele and his family are entitled to a full and complete factual explanation of the circumstances surrounding this criminal activity at the DSCC and the role of more senior individuals at the DSCC," the letter says.
If that explanation is not obtained, "a civil proceeding might be approrpriate," Braden told reporters, adding that the discovery process would help answer lingering questions.
Phil Singer, a spokesman for the DSCC, said he considers the matter closed.
"As has been said repeatedly, the DSCC has never been implicated in any wrongdoing in this incident," Singer said.
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