Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has been charged with violating federal election law.
Stockman conspired with former congressional employees to funnel money intended for a charity to his campaign, according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent unsealed Thursday. He is also accused of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
The allegations center on a $350,000 donation Stockman solicited from an unnamed businessman shortly after taking office in 2013, according to the statement. The money was supposed to go to a Las Vegas-based nonprofit called Life Without Limits, but Stockman instead “secretly diverted the funds to pay for a variety of personal expenses and to fund illegal contributions to Stockman’s campaigns for public office,” the statement said.
Stockman said after the hearing that he had been targeted for speaking out against the Internal Revenue Service, and cited the right-wing conspiracy theory that contends bureaucrats are secretly running the U.S. government.
“This is part of a deep state that’s continuing to progress,” he said.
In court documents filed with the criminal complaint, the FBI agent said that shortly after Stockman took office for the second time in January 2013, he solicited a $350,000 donation from an unidentified “wealthy businessman” from Chicago on behalf of a Las Vegas-based nonprofit, Life Without Limits, which had been set up to help people through traumatic events.
The donation ostensibly was for renovation of a so-called Freedom House to serve as a meeting and training facility in Washington, D.C. The businessman’s charitable organization issued a check the same day.
Instead of going to the house project, however, the check was deposited six few days later in a Webster bank account set up by Stockman doing business as Life Without Limits – an account that had a balance of only $33.48 at the time, according to the agent.
“Beginning shortly after the $350,000 charitable donation was deposited into his Life Without Limits account, rather than spending the money on the ‘Freedom House,’ Stockman secretly diverted the funds to pay for a variety of personal expenses and to fund illegal contributions to Stockman’s campaigns for public office,” the agent stated.
Records show he made no “significant” contributions toward the renovations and that the Freedom House never opened.
According to the agent, some of the funds were funneled directly into the campaign through “conduit contributors,” who received cash from the Life Without Limits account and then made contributions to Stockman’s campaign.
Outside of court on Friday, Stockman said the amount in dispute is $15,000 – not the $350,000 described in court. He did not explain the higher dollar amount.
He said he has been investigated by at least three grand juries over the past three years after he tried to have Lois Lerner of the IRS arrested for contempt of congress in July 2014.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a nonprofit group that wanted to sue Lerner and other individual IRS officials for allegedly harassing tea party groups that applied for tax-exempt status with burdensome scrutiny in 2014.
As trouble follows Steve Stockman like flies follow a garbage truck, Stockman was investigated for ethical issues in 2014, during his one-term return to Congress after winning a multi-candidate primary for the new CD36. By the end of his term, he and three of his staffers had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, which is what I presume led to this. There were also investigations by the House Ethics Committee, the Office of Congressional Ethics, and the Federal Elections Commission, which is an impressive amount of activity for one otherwise inconsequential single-term Congressperson. I’ll say again, he remains one of the most brilliant and underrated political performance artists of our time. We may never see his like again, though we may see his ass in jail by the time this is all said and done. Click2Houston, ThinkProgress, the Press, and Juanita have more.