Blogger Hugh Hewitt calls it "Chuckaquiddick." The Freepers call it "Schumergate." Either way, it’s bad news for Democrats, in particular for Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer and Democrat operative David Brock.
FBI investigators are currently probing one Katie Barge for illegally obtaining a credit report on Maryland’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael S. Steele. Barge undertook the project on behalf of Senator Schumer’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). She was formerly research director of David Brock’s Media Matters for America (MMFA), a Democrat smear machine.
"Don’t bother with The New York Times if you want details," writes syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin this morning. "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."
In June, African-American Republican Steele revealed his interest in running for the U.S. Senate in 2006. Schumer’s DSCC resolved to stop him. The DSCC works to elect Democrats to the Senate. Schumer was appointed DSCC chairman on November 17, 2004.
In July, DSCC research director Katie Barge and her deputy Lauren Weiner retrieved Lt. Governor Steele’s social security number from a court document, then used the number to get Steele’s credit report.
What happened next is a little unclear.
Newsday says that Barge reported her findings "within hours" to DSCC executive director J.B. Poersch, Jr., whereupon Senator Schumer personally urged his staff to "report it immediately to the authorities," according to a DSCC flack.
Barge and Weiner were suspended with pay, their crime reported to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, DC, which is now investigating the case jointly with the FBI. Barge and Weiner — "Schumer’s plumbers," as Hugh Hewitt calls them — resigned in early September.
If indicted, the two women may face two years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
"The lieutenant governor is the victim of identity theft and would like these people prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They posed as him to get his credit report," said Steele’s chief of staff Paul Ellington, quoted in Newsday of September 22.
Democrat spinmeisters have dismissed the matter as an "isolated incident" of youthful zeal gone awry. But Barge is no babe in the woods. She was DSCC research director, a hardened Beltway operative very much at home in the extra-legal demimonde of political sleazemongering.
When Schumer’s DSCC hired Katie Barge in February 2005, she had already served as research director for David Brock’s Media Matters and as opposition researcher for Senator John Edwards’ abortive presidential campaign.
"It seems that Ms. Barge got hired by the DSCC for exactly the purpose for which she got suspended," notes Edward Morrissey on his Captain’s Quarters blog.