You’ve probably heard that Michael Steele is talking to the FBI about allegations that he misused campaign funds in his ’06 Senate campaign

Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors

Federal agents in recent days contacted Steele’s sister, a spokesman for Steele said yesterday.

The claim about the payment, one of several allegations by Alan B. Fabian, is outlined in a confidential court document. Fabian offered the information last March as he was seeking leniency for himself during plea negotiations on unrelated fraud charges. It is unclear how extensively his claims have been pursued. Prosecutors gave him no credit for cooperation when he was sentenced in October.

His spokesman says that’s just silly

Steele spokesman Curt Anderson said he did not know what information the federal agents were seeking, but he dismissed Fabian’s allegations as patently false. "It’s from, what, a convicted felon? And it has no substantiation in fact," he said.

Fabian’s claims emerge as Steele begins his new role at the RNC, where he oversees the raising and spending of hundreds of millions of dollars in party money. The former Maryland lieutenant governor has faced questions about his handling of campaign money in prior elections and was twice fined for missing filing deadlines.

 and Steele does too

"It’s not true," Steele told [George Stephanopoulos] on "This Week" Sunday.

"Those allegations were leveled by a convicted felon who was trying to get a reduced sentence on his conviction," Steele said…

"The thing about this George that is so frustrating to me, is that the Washington Post elevated this guy. And gave him credibility when no one else would. That’s disturbing.

Yeah. Who would elevate a criminal and give him credibility when no-one else would?

mike-tyson-for-michael-steel1.thumbnail.jpgsteele_king.thumbnail.jpgOther than Michael Steele, that is. Steele received prominent endorsements from Don King (numbers runner, two-time killer and expert on electoral politics in Maryland) and his former brother-in-law, convicted rapist Mike Tyson (formerly married to Steele’s sister, the pediatrician who provided the catering and web services at issue)

As former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson made sports headlines by hinting that he wanted to fight a female boxer in the ring, he also made political headlines by wearing a "Steele for Maryland" T-shirt.

Tyson’s implicit endorsement of Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele for U.S. Senate stems from his former marriage to Steele’s half-sister, Monica Turner. During the Youngstown, Ohio, press conference, where he will fight later this week, Tyson pointed to his shirt and said, "We have to open our eyes more."

After the press conference, Tyson told The Washington Post, "I would do anything to help Michael. I would box an exhibition for him. I would even fight again to help Mike. I would do anything."

In a March 2006 New York Times interview, Steele said that he would welcome Tyson’s help in the campaign. "He may be divorced from my sister, but I can’t cast him aside," said Steele at the time.

Steele’s spokesman, however, denied any connection between Tyson and the campaign in an e-mail to the Associated Press.

Tyson’s actions came on the same day that his former promoter, Don King, campaigned for Steele in black communities across Maryland.

The presence of both King and Tyson in the Steele campaign is unusual mostly because of their checkered pasts.

King was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1960s and was sued by Tyson and Muhammad Ali for allegedly bilking money from the boxers. Tyson has had a tumultuous career, including serving prison time for rape and biting off the ear of opponent Evander Holyfield in the ring in 1997

So King’s an expert on Republican politics, and Tyson’s an expert on Republican politics. Who’s Alan Fabian?

Well, he was Steele’s campaign finance guy (he and his wife donated over $12k to Steele in ’05-’06. Steele returned just over $4k of it when Fabian’s legal troubles started). He was also a Bush Pioneer, and donated $100k to the ’05 Inaugural festivities (pdf). Overall, Republicans got $368k in campaign contributions from him directly, including $175k for the RNC (keep in mind that all these number represent amounts Fabian donated that were not returned). When he was indicted for large-scale financial fraud, Fabian was forced to step down as the Finance Co-Chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign (for which he was also a Pioneer. Over $60k of that money was donated (and, in the wake of the indictment, kept) in the 2008 cycle.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that of the high-profile criminals Steele hangs out with, Fabian’s the one most likely to know what he’s talking about.