Michael J Collins

Steffen worked in dark behind political scenes

Steffen worked in dark behind political scenes

Joseph F. Steffen Jr. left Reisterstown's Franklin High School and quickly found a home in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, working mostly behind the scenes as a self-described "Prince of Darkness" on behalf of favorite Republicans - including, for more than a decade, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Now, the 45-year-old political operative finds himself squarely in the limelight amid questions about the closeness of his relationship with Maryland's governor, having left his state job after spreading rumors over the Internet about his boss' likely rival in 2006, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley.

As the Ehrlich administration distanced itself from Steffen's...