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Steele on Sudan

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has called on the managers of the state's pension system to divest its holdings in companies doing business in Sudan.

Steele, who is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, said he was "deeply troubled" to learn that the state has about $25 million in funds and accounts that may hold securities invested in companies engaged in business dealings with the government of Sudan.

"The current situation in Sudan can only be described as extremely contrary to U.S. foreign policy and humanitarian objectives," he said, citing episodes of human slavery, mutilations, rape, starvation, and the murder of non-Arab black Africans in Darfur.

Illinois, Oregon and New Jersey, as well as several universities, have begun either divesting funds from Sudan or restricting investments in companies there.

Some Democratic state lawmakers in Maryland have been backing legislation that would impose a similar push for divestment, but said yesterday that the proposal failed last year and is "on life support" as the 2006 session nears its April 10 adjournment.

The bill's sponsor, Del. Salima S. Marriott (D-Baltimore) said yesterday that she believes the issue transcends political partisanship, and appreciated Steele's help lobbying for the bill's passage.

"The situation in Sudan demands this level of collaboration," Marriott said.

Matthew Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  March 20, 2006; 7:24 PM ET
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I agree with Mr. Steele, it is deeply troubling. It's also a little disconcerting that Mr. Steele, the state's Lieutenant Governor, needed four years in office in order to go public on this issue.

It's also interesting that Mr. Steele is picking one of the least controversial issues possible on which to speak up. (I mean, c'mon, who's in favor of genocide?) He's certainly not one for much political courage.

Posted by: John Hamilton | March 20, 2006 10:07 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it's a little disconcerting that a Lt. Governor of a mid-tier state took four yeras to go public on an issue of international relations.

And his prescription is wrong:

Posted by: Anonymous | March 20, 2006 11:09 PM | Report abuse

I suggest that Mr. Steele talk to his Republican friends and supporters who control the Legislative and Executive branchs of our Federal Government and do something about Darfur etc. rather than just playing politics on the issue.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 21, 2006 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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