Looks like Michael Steele’s got more to worry about than his abject surrender to Rush Limbaugh the other day.
The RNC chair is also facing renewed questions about what looks like irregular campaign spending during his thwarted 2006 Senate bid in Maryland.
We told you a few weeks ago about allegations — albeit from a convicted felon seeking reduced jail time — that Steele’s campaign made payments to a company run by his sister, for work that was never performed. FBI agents questioned Steele’s sister about the issue, and the Steele camp still hasnt given explanations for the payments that add up.
Now, a local Maryland TV station reports on what sounds like a similar possible scheme. Both Steele and fellow GOPer Bob Ehrlich — who was running at the time to hold on to the governorship — made payments from their campaigns to a firm called Allied Berton, according to campaign finance records.
As the news channel, WBAL, reports:
The firm’s Web site said it was in the business of trading commodities, such as minerals, metals, coffee and sugar. But the campaign payments it received, according to the candidates’ accounting, were for a wide range of other activities, according to campaign filings.
Steele’s Senate campaign made four payments to Allied Berton in October and November 2006 totaling more than $64,000. Each of those expenses was listed as political consulting, according to campaign filings.
The company is run by Sandy Roberts, a well-connected Republican who held a party for Steele at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.
A Steele spokesman offered no better explanation for these payments than it has for the payments to Steele’s sister — saying only that Steele’s campaign followed all FEC rules.
As for the Ehrlich camp, it said that the payments might have been for those homeless election day workers that the Republicans bussed in from Philadelphia to give the illusion of African-American support.
Why the GOP would have entrusted that task to a commodities trading firm was not explained.