Steele Speaks Out on Credit Report Secrecy Breach - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Steele Speaks Out on Credit Report Secrecy Breach

BALTIMORE (AP)- Lt. Gov. Michael Steele may be flirting with the idea of running for the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes, but he said that does not mean Democratic campaign workers are free to invade his privacy by accessing his credit report.

"The report is my private financial information. I would like it to stay that way," he said Saturday on WBAL-AM, addressing the issue for the first time publicly.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced Tuesday that two staffers had gotten Steele's private credit report. The incident was reported to the U.S. attorney's office when the two employees told their superiors what they had done, according to a committee spokesman. It is illegal under federal law to knowingly and willingly obtain a credit report under false pretenses.

Public officials are increasingly becoming victims of identity theft for political purposes, he said.

"It's not the way we need to conduct our campaigns. It's not the way we need to conduct ourselves publicly. I think it's wrong and inappropriate," Steele said.

Committees and campaign staffs for both political parties routinely conduct what is called opposition research, probing for personal and political background information that can be used to discredit opponents or defend candidates from attacks on their records.

Steele said he has nothing to hide in his credit report. However, he objected to being asked to make his credit report public and said he did not want the story to get away from the investigation and focus on him.

"Let's not get lost on what we're talking about here," he said. "It's not about Michael Steele's credit report, it's about the theft of Michael Steele's credit report. ... They're not investigating what's in my credit report, they're investigating the theft of my credit report."

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