Monday, February 09, 2009

New Republican Leader Has Ethics Problems

The Republicans tried to fool Americans a few days ago, when they elected Michael Steele to be the head of the Republican National Committee. By electing an African-American, they were hoping to convince Americans that they are truly a "big tent" party, with a multi-racial membership. But even the most casual glance at the delegates to their last convention shows this to be a lie (Warning: use sunglasses when you look, as the overwhelming whiteness can be blinding.)

Now it looks like the choice of Steele was even worse than just a party membership lie. It seems the African-American chosen by the Republicans has some ethics problems of his own (but in their defense, they didn't have too many African-Americans to choose from).

Steele's former finance chairman, Alan B. Fabian, says Steele used campaign funds from his failed Senate campaign to funnel tens of thousands of dollars into a defunct company owned by Steele's sister. Fabian says the defunct company did no work for the campaign. Fabian provided the information to federal prosecutors.

Steele passed off the accusations as those of a convicted felon trying to reduce his prison time, and said the payments were a legitimate reimbursement of expenses. There are two things wrong with that argument. First, it doesn't look good when your finance chairman gets convicted of a felony and gives evidence against you (because it would do him no good to lie to federal prosecutors), and second, Steele conviently forgot to list what the "reimbursements" were for.

Steele is going to have to do a lot better than that. He needs to verify exactly what work the sister's company did, or explain why that company deserved any reimbursement at all. Otherwise, it just looks like he was using the sister's defunct company to siphon off campaign funds for his personal use. Isn't that against the law?

Surely the Republicans can find a better leader than this dishonest token!

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