Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele’s failed 2006 campaign for Senate has been fined $54,000 for taking too much money from Steele’s sister, the Federal Elections Committee announced.
In addition to Steele’s civil penalty, his sister Monica Turner has agreed to pay her own civil penalty of $5,500 for “excessive in-kind and cash contributions” to the campaign. The FEC faulted Steele for accepting some of those prohibited contributions “knowingly and willfully” and also found that Steele’s former treasurer, Belinda Cook, used funds improperly.
The complaint alleges Turner held two 2006 fundraisers at her Bethesda, Md., home for her brother, bringing in more than $100,000 in donations. Turner spent more than $35,000 to cover some of the fundraisers’ costs and in other contributions to the campaign, but that money wasn’t disclosed in Steele’s FEC filings. The complaint also maintains that federal and state campaign funds were intermingled in a way that violated FEC regulations.
The $54,000 the campaign must pay the FEC adds to the $51,493 in other debt the defunct campaign still owes, according to FEC data. The campaign had just $42 cash on hand as of the end of June.
Steele, who previously served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor, lost his 2006 Senate bid to then-Rep. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), but in 2009 won the chairmanship of the RNC, where his tenure was marked by a series of embarrassing gaffes and the rapid accumulation of debt.
Reince Priebus took over as RNC chairman in January. Steele is now a commentator and political analyst for MSNBC.