The Schumergate conspirators appear to have settled on a scapegoat. She is Katie Barge, former research director for Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC). Miss Barge faces a possible two years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. Her former boss Chuck Schumer does not appear to be in any legal jeopardy whatsoever.
As previously noted on this blog, FBI investigators are probing Miss Barge and her deputy Lauren Weiner for illegally obtaining a credit report on Maryland’s lieutenant governor Michael S. Steele, a black Republican. Barge undertook this operation on behalf of the DSCC.
Barge and Weiner resigned from the DSCC early this month, after two months’ paid leave and an "internal investigation." DSCC chairman Senator Schumer claims that he personally gave the order to report their illegal conduct to the authorities. The crime was an "isolated incident" caused by youthful overzealousness, states Schumer’s flack.
Miss Barge is undeniably youthful. She graduated Wesleyan University of Middletown, Connecticut in 2001. However, in her brief professional life, she has acquired an impressive track record as a political dirt-digger.
She served as opposition research director for Senator John Edwards (D-NC), during Edwards’ short-lived presidential bid, which lasted from September 16, 2003 to March 3, 2004.
The young investigator next surfaced in a New York Times feature of May 3, 2004 announcing the launch of David Brock’s Media Matters for America (MMFA). The article noted that Brock’s new research director Katie Barge "sat before a bank of computers and televisions in a room that was otherwise dark," supervising her "team of nearly a half-dozen researchers." It continues:
"Some of the researchers wore headphones as they scanned episodes of cable news programs stored on digital recording devices, among them `Hannity & Colmes’ on Fox News Channel, `Dennis Miller’ on CNBC and `Scarborough Country’ on MSNBC. Two researchers have been assigned to cover Mr. Limbaugh, whose program they will regularly transcribe."
But Miss Barge was destined for bigger and better things. In February 2005, Schumer’s DSCC hired her as research director. The DSCC works to elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate. In her new job, young Miss Barge now found herself supervising opposition research (that is, political dirt-digging) for every U.S. Senate race in the country.
It was in that capacity, in July, that Miss Barge and her deputy Lauren Weiner used Steele’s social security number to illegally obtain a copy of his credit report, in the process violating the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If prosecuted, Miss Barge will need top-drawer legal advice. To that end, she has retained William E. Lawler III, the $420-per-hour criminal defense attorney who represented disgraced former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey. Lawler works from the Washington DC office of the Houston-based law firm Vinson & Elkins, LLP. (hat tip, RedState.org)
For more details, see, "Schumergate: The Brock Connection."