“After November 3rd I can sleep,” said Michelle Park Steel, discussing her current campaign for Congress. “It’s so busy, but we have raised $1.75 million since May!”
In a California Globe interview, Steel said she just held a fundraiser with U.S. Senator Rand Paul and made $75,000. “I am so grateful,” Steel said. “Yesterday an elderly couple — 93 and 87 – showed up, concerned about the future and the County. They maxed out their contributions. If I had a better word than ‘thank you’ I would use it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
“I can forget about being tired,” Steel added. She said there are many young high school and college student volunteers on her campaign. “High school Presidents and valedictorians, and college kids in Young Americans for Freedom. “I am so grateful!”
Michelle Park Steel is married to Shawn Steel, a former California Republican Party Chairman who currently serves as the California National Committeeman at the RNC.
Currently a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and a former member of the California State Board of Equalization (January 5, 2007 – January 5, 2015), Michelle Steel is running for Congress in California’s 48th Congressional District.
The 48th district runs along the Orange County coast from Long Beach to Dana Point. “It’s one of the richest Congressional districts in the state, with a median income sitting at about $90,000. And it’s also the most vulnerable Congressional district currently in California,” California Globe recently reported.
The Democrats flipped the district in 2018, carefully targeting Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who held the seat 1989-2019, with $4 million in campaign funding from former New York City Mayor and current Democratic candidate for President Michael Bloomberg.
Michelle Steel thinks she can win back the 48th for Republicans.
Steel was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her father, a diplomat, moved the family to Japan for his job. Steel was raised and educated in Japan until her father passed away. Following her father’s death, her mother, who did not speak any English, packed up her three daughters and moved to the United States. Steel’s education continued in the United States. She holds a degree in business from Pepperdine University and an MBA from the University of Southern California, and is fluent in Korean and Japanese.
Steel said in the U.S., her mother opened a mens clothing store. Michelle, who was in college at the time at Pepperdine, had to closely help her mother in the store because of her language barrier. “I never sat down to eat lunch – it was one bite, then work. Then another bite…” Steel said. She worked long hours with her mother while attending college, and doing her studying late into the night and early morning hours, saying she rarely slept.
Eventually Steel said her mother recognized that the long hours with the men’s clothing store had been hard on the family so she closed it and opened a sandwich shop. And that is when the inkling of Michelle’s political career began.
“My mother got hit by the BOE tax board, and ended up paying taxes she did not owe,” Steel explained. “As I watched my single working mother struggle to fight an unwarranted tax bill from the California State Board of Equalization,” Steel said she felt helpless to do anything. “As an immigrant who owned a small business, my mother got harassed because she lacked the resources she needed to appeal the tax. After watching my own mother struggle, I knew I needed to help those who couldn’t help themselves, so I decided to run for public office.”
Steel said her goal in running for Board of Equalization was to help all small business owners. “I was a housewife running against a prominent Senator and won.” Once inside the BOE as a board member, Michelle Steel said the system was so corrupt that companies which asked for refunds on a deposit tax, suddenly found themselves being audited by the BOE. Steel investigated and ended up making sure $400 million was returned to California taxpaying companies. “I stopped a lot of taxes! I did whatever I could,” she said.
Following two terms of tax fighting on the BOE, Michelle Steel ran for Orange County Supervisor in 2015 and won. She said after being a tax fighter on behalf of California businesses, “I think I can do a good job.” What surprised Steel, even after being on the BOE, was how much work is involved in representing the County. “There are 25 different agencies,” she said. “The first six months other county board members tried to see how I would bend,” Steel said. “They pushed and pushed. I raised two teenage girls in America… I knew what they were doing. I told them to stop pushing me. After six months they stopped.”
Steel currently serves as the Chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and continued with her pledge to “work tirelessly on behalf of all Orange County families fighting higher taxes, reducing traffic congestion in our communities, and ensuring our bays and coastlines are clean.”
“I think they were preparing me for my next race,” Steel added.
48th Congressional District
After Rep. Dana Rohrabacher lost his reelection in 2018 to Democrat Harley Rouda, Steel said she took serious notice. And then Rohrabacher contacted her and suggested she run for the 48th in the 2020 Election. And then Rep. Mimi Walters, who had also lost the 2018 election in the 45th District also contacted Steel, saying she should run in the 45th. Steel and her husband Shawn Steel closely examined both districts, and considered running. Michelle said 66% of her Orange County Second District is in the 48th Congressional, and the residents know her. And the issues in both the County district and Congressional District are the same: Mentally ill and drug addicted homeless, being foremost on everyone’s mind. “Housing first is not going to work,” Steel said. She saw why first hand in Orange County when a judge ordered the county provide housing for 99 homeless individuals rousted from the Santa Ana River when the county cleared the area and cleaned it up from homeless encampments. “The County spent $1.2 million in rent for six months on rooms in a building,”
Steel said. “After they were cleaned out, the owner of the building sued us for $2.7 million for the damage to the building. It was trashed.”
Steel said what is needed is a very large facility, for 90 days, where the addicts and mentally ill can get treatment, medications, get help with jobs, and help going back to family.
Steel is critical of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s homeless task force and the appointments of “statewide experts” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who currently advise his administration on “solutions to address the state’s homelessness epidemic.”
“The Governor decides to spend $1.4 billion, and then appoints Ridley-Thomas and Steinberg, from two of the worst cities,” Steel said.
Another hot button issue is SB 54, which turned California into a Sanctuary state. “We were the first county that came out saying that public safety comes first,” Steele said. “We are not talking about immigrants, but criminals.” Steele said more than 2,100 illegal criminals have been released in Orange County as a result of SB 54. And according to a report, more than 400 criminals have re-offended in Orange County since their release. Charges include rape, assault, domestic violence, and driving under the influence.
We also discussed health care extensively. Steel said when Obamacare was signed into law, the 500,000 low income people on Cal Optima jumped to 750,000. “Government required health care does not work,” Steel said. “Only with free markets do premiums go down. And Medicare for all – guess what? That will cost trillions of dollars, and only illegal aliens will get free coverage.” As California Globe has noted many times, health coverage does not mean health care.
“Both of my parents fled North Korea,” Steel said. “Why would the country move to Communism or Socialism?” She said when her grandfather was still living in North Korea, he owned a lumberyard. “He was given 24 hours to get out with what he could put on a carriage,” Steel said. “He was forced to give up his business. He couldn’t exactly put much lumber on a carriage.”
“I am dumbfounded and terrified of Socialism,” Steel said. “Bernie promising free tuition to college students is Socialism.”
“But I am so excited about my college and high school volunteers – they see something that these other kids don’t.”
“I just became a grandmother seven months ago,” Michelle Steel said. “I was ready to term out. But I prayed and prayed, and people kept telling me to run.”
And then in the middle of one night, Michelle said she found herself suddenly awake and had her answer. “My husband was asleep. So I texted my family ‘Mommy is running.'”
More than 75 local officials have endorsed Steel, including the key endorsement of House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in her bid for U.S. Congress.
Michelle Steel didn’t set out to become political or even a politician, which together with her perspective as an immigrant, and commitment to Orange County is what makes her so effective.