Racist and anti-Semitic lawyer Edgar J. Steele, best known for unsuccessfully defending the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations in a lawsuit, pleaded not guilty after authorities arrested him for allegedly plotting to kill his wife and mother-in-law. Steele, 64, was charged on June 11 with hiring a hit man to kill the two women. According to the man, who informed the FBI about the plot, he was to kill the women in a car crash that would be made to look like an accident. The informant also reported that Steele had in mind a list of other people he also wanted to see dead. Steele faces a ten-year prison term for the plot.
A few hours before Steele's plea, auto shop employees found a pipe bomb attached to a car driven by his wife. This new development caused the judge in the case to keep Steele in jail pending a hearing next week.
Steele gained notoriety in right-wing extremist circles for representing Aryan Nations in a 2000 lawsuit brought against the group by the Southern Poverty Law Center on behalf of a mother and son who ware assaulted by guards from the organization. The mother and son won a $6.3 million judgment against Aryan Nations and its leader Richard Butler, who was forced to give up the group's compound in Hayden Lake, Idaho.
After losing the Aryan Nations case, Steele began openly acknowledging his own anti-Semitic and white supremacist beliefs. He created a Web site, Conspiracy Pen Pal, on which he espoused these views in weekly commentaries that were widely distributed over the Internet.
In his most recent commentary, "Beneath Every Rock," posted in May 2010, Steele states that he has returned from a period of silence over the past several months and now he is back and is "really truly pissed." Steele claims that he had attempted to "cleanse" his online presence because he was contemplating a run for governor of Idaho. He adds that because there was no way he could win he has decided to "agitate the choir a bit more than normal, in hopes that the discontent will trickle down to others." Steele writes that there is change "afoot in America" but that the country is not ready for leaders like him and won't be "not until I see guillotines erected across America as the French did two centuries ago, with the bankers, politicians and other establishment mainstays being cycled through them."
In this last commentary, Steele refers to a number of anti-Semitic and racist columns he had written in previous years, in which he accused Jews of owning the Federal Reserve Bank, running organized crime "throughout America," and orchestrating the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In his one of his pieces, Steele asks, "What color are Jews?" He answers, "Jews are the color of avarice and greed. Jews are the color of deception, manipulation and the lust for power. Jews are the color of dishonesty, selfishness and heartlessness."
Steele also regularly attacks blacks in his pieces. He has claimed there is a "Black-on-White race war" in the U.S., and that blacks have "inherited" a distinctly "African" culture of "rape…murder…violence… [and] single-parent families."
In the years following the Aryan Nations lawsuit, Steele was a sought-after speaker at conferences of right-wing extremists, including those conducted by neo-Nazi groups such as the National Alliance and Volksfront. He has also spoken at Holocaust denial conferences.