By Michelle Malkin
Sep 28, 2005
Have you heard about what New York Sen. Charles Schumer's meddling minions tried to do here in my home state of Maryland to embarrass a Republican opponent?
Don't bother with The New York Times if you want details. Since revelations of the scandal first broke a week ago on the national wires and in the rest of the New York media, the Times has failed to print a single word about the Dems' invasive -- and obviously illegal -- dumpster diving.
Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a rising star in the party, is considering a Senate bid for the Maryland seat being vacated by Democrat Paul Sarbanes next year. Apparently threatened by the prospect of a strong, popular, black Republican candidate, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee got down and dirty. Two of Schumer's staffers on the committee, including a former top researcher for David Brock's left-wing "think tank," obtained Steele's confidential credit report by using his Social Security number, which they had reportedly culled from court records.
Under federal law, it is illegal to knowingly and willfully obtain a credit report under false pretenses. The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act imposes a maximum two-year prison sentence for the crime.
Democrat spinners would have you believe that the two staffers involved in the apparent fraud, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, were young and inexperienced workers. They're soft-pedaling the incident as an "isolated" occurrence on par with a high school prank. But Barge has been around the block, including stints as a researcher for Sen. John Edwards' failed presidential bid and as research director for Brock's Media Matters for America.
The two henchladies reportedly owned up to the act in July, were suspended with pay until Aug. 31, as the New York Post's Deborah Orin reported, and resigned earlier this month. Their dealings are being investigated by the fraud and public corruption section of the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C., with help from the FBI -- which, according to Steele's staff, told the lieutenant governor that he was an obvious "victim of a crime."
Law enforcement officials are taking this criminal intrusion into private records deadly seriously. But left-wing partisans are nowhere to be found. Steele's staff tells me that longtime crusader against identity theft Sen. Schumer, who denies having any knowledge of the scheme, has still issued no apology for the abuse of Steele's personal data. And there has been no outcry from the ACLU, the champions of clean campaigns, or any major national newspaper editorial board.
(Protecting privacy only seems to matter to liberals when it comes to 14-year-old girls seeking abortions behind their parents' backs, illegal aliens seeking sanctuary from the police, and registered sex offenders objecting to community registration requirements.)
Needless to say, if it had been Republicans involved in this outrageous breach of privacy and the target had been a liberal minority politician, it would be front-page news. When asked by readers why the Times had not covered the story, ombudsman Byron Calame's office sent this obnoxious reply:
Thanks for writing and raising this issue. This office has no control over what is printed in the paper. It seems your message would be better directed to email@example.com.
The Times, it should be noted, is the same paper that happily received and printed a front-page story about an illegally obtained tape recording of a conference call with Republican leaders in 1996 that was leaked by Democrat Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington. McDermott's leak was condemned by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan last year as "willful and knowing misconduct [that] rises to the level of malice in this case." McDermott is busy raising money from lobbyists for his defense fund -- a violation of House rules that the Times' ethics mavens have blithely ignored.
Jaded journalists will shrug off what conservative author and talk show host Hugh Hewitt has dubbed "Chuckaquiddick" by arguing that "everybody does it." If that is so, they should be leading the charge to find out who else at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has been doing it. And to whom they have been doing it.