The First Time I Heard About Michael Steele (and His Sister)

By Caitlin Taylor

Feb 9, 2009 9:31am

…was back in 1998 while working on a story about Mike Tyson for Washington City Paper.

The scene took place right after Tyson had pleaded no-contest to charges that he committed two acts of second-degree assault after a Maryland fender bender.

"…while reporters are dying to know what Tyson thinks about his latest romp in the judicial system, and his fans want to hear that he’s OK, the boxer inexplicably weighs in on a local politician. ‘I’m joining the new forum of black Republican leadership here,’ Tyson says as he reaches the cameras and dives into the media molecule. ‘My vote is going for me and Charles Barkley, and [Barkley]‘s gonna come and help me campaign for Michael Steele for Congress.’ Reporters furrow their brows.

"’ Michael Steele, y’all! Vote for Michael Steele! Michael Steele, now!’ Tyson says, joining his wife in the back seat of his Lexus.

"As the former champ’s bodyguard drives him and Turner away, (Tyson’s attorney Paul) Kemp takes center stage. ‘I have no idea’ who Steele is, he says. (Steele, chairman of the Prince George’s County GOP and an African-American, was running for the chairmanship of Maryland’s Republican State Committee, though he withdrew from the race that same day. He has no apparent plans to run for Congress.)"

At the time, Tyson was married to Steele’s sister, Monica Turner.

Now, however, Steele is chair of the RNC and his former finance chair from his unsuccessful 2006 Senate race is questioning payments Steele made to Turner’s company, as reported by the Washington Post.

The former finance chair, Alan Fabian, claimed that Steele made the more than $37,000 payment to Turner for services never rendered 11 months after her company dissolved. Fabian told this to prosecutors "as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges."

Steele told George Stephanopoulos yesterday that the money was a "legitimate transaction and Fabian’s charge is simply "not true."

"Those allegations were leveled by a convicted felon who was trying to get a reduced sentence on his conviction," Steele said. "The reality of it is that the US attorney, as well as the judge, looked at what he presented and it did not apply. He said there was no credibility to it." Steele said, "the Washington Post ought to be ashamed of itself for getting out in front of something without all of the facts."

- jpt

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