Steele Plans Card Fundraiser
Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R) is dipping back into President Bush's campaign finance donor pool this week as he continues to raise money to fund his campaign for U.S. Senate.
This time, Steele will be in New York at the Upper East Side home of GOP moneyman and Free Enterprise Fund chairman Mallory Factor.
Wednesday's event will be headlined by White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr., continuing a series of fundraisers Steele has held with help from the Bush administration.
His first fundraising event as a candidate was hosted by Karl Rove. More recently, President Bush came to Maryland and raised roughly $500,000 for Steele's senate campaign.
Steele's campaign officials have said they have no intention of shying away from the president, even though Maryland is a blue state where polls show Bush is not particularly popular
Meanwhile, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) yesterday defended Steele's practice of using taxpayer money to cover the cost of his security detail on political trips and foreign travel.
Democrats took aim at Steele last week after The Washington Post reported that Maryland taxpayers had paid $49,000 for state troopers, who serve as Steele's bodyguards, to travel to political events with the lieutenant governor.
During an appearance on WBAL radio in Baltimore, Ehrlich said he considered the flap "a nonissue," adding: "You don't cease being a public official because you're running for another office." He suggested Democratic candidates running for governor be given the same scrutiny.
Representatives of Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) said local taxpayers generally do cover in-state protection of the two men, though they pointed out that neither travels out-of-state nearly as frequently as Steele, who spent 128 days on out-of-state travel since taking office..
Taxpayers do not pay to protect Duncan when he leaves the state, a spokeswoman said. It is up to O'Malley's security detail to determine whether he needs protection outside of Maryland, a spokesman for the mayor said.
Matthew Mosk and John Wagner
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