- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

Have you heard about what New York Sen. Charles Schumer’s meddling minions tried to do in my home state of Maryland to embarrass a Republican opponent?

Don’t bother with the New York Times if you want details. Since the scandal first broke a week ago on the national wires and in the rest of the New York media, the Times has printed not a single word about the Democrats’ 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 Mr. Schumer’s committee staffers, including a former top researcher for David Brock’s left-wing “think tank,” obtained Mr. Steele’s confidential credit report by using his Social Security number, which they reportedly culled from court records.

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 the two staffers involved, Katie Barge and Lauren Weiner, were young and inexperienced. They’re soft-pedaling the incident as an “isolated” occurrence on par with a high school prank. But Miss 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, D.C., with help from the FBI, which, according to Mr. Steele’s staff, told the lieutenant governor he was an obvious “victim of a crime.”

Law enforcement officials are deadly serious in their view of this criminal intrusion into private records. But left-wing partisans are nowhere to be found.

Mr. Steele’s staff tells me Mr. Schumer, a longtime crusader against identity theft who denies any knowledge of the scheme, still has issued no apology for the abuse of Mr. Steele’s personal data. And there has been no outcry from the American Civil Liberties Union, 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 Republicans had been involved in this outrageous breach of privacy and the target were a liberal minority politician, it would be Page One news. Asked by readers why the Times had not covered the story, ombudsman Byron Calame’s office sent this obnoxious reply:

Dear Reader,

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 news-tipsnytimes.com.

The Times, it should be noted, is the same paper that happily received and printed a Page One story about an illegally obtained tape recording of a conference call with Republican leaders in 1996 that was leaked by Rep. Jim McDermott, Washington Democrat. Mr. 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.” Mr. 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 “everybody does it.” If so, they should lead the charge to find out who else at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has done it. And to whom they done it.

Michelle Malkin is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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