Far-Right Former Congressman Steve Stockman Charged With Violating Election Law

Steve Stockman, a Texas Republican who served two nonconsecutive terms in Congress, was arrested yesterday over a scheme to funnel money from a nonprofit group for personal use. KPRC Houston reports:

Stockman, a Tea Party favorite who courted controversy thorough two congressional terms, was brought into court Thursday shackled and handcuffed.

He is accused of conspiring to violate federal election laws during his last term in office. It’s a felony that could send him to federal prison if he’s convicted.

As Stockman stood before the judge Thursday afternoon, prosecutors alleged that the former Congressman had conspired with two former employees to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to his personal use.

According to the complaint, in 2011 Stockman set up a non-profit called Life Without Limits in Las Vegas. A single contributor donated $350,000 to the charity, which Stockman then allegedly funneled back to himself through donations made by his employees.

While Stockman was beloved by the GOP’s far-right flank for his outrageous rhetoric and history of pushing bizarre conspiracy theories, he left Congress after losing a primary challenge against U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

Stockman once suggested that Barack Obama wanted to see the Ebola virus spread throughout the U.S. in order to “take control of the economy and individuals,” has claimed that Obama refused to fight terrorists, and has implied that he is a secret Muslim. Stockman also believes that Obama had a “fraudulent” birth certificate and stole the 2012 election.

Like our current president, Stockman gained notoriety for his use of Twitter, where he has tweeted statements like:

Mother Jones notes that he also pushed conspiracy theories in his first term in Congress back in the 1990s:

Then, in April of 1995,  the Oklahoma City bombing happened. According to news accounts a few days after the attack, Stockman’s office had received a cryptic faxminutes before the detonation, alluding to a major incident in Oklahoma: “First update. Bldg 7 to 10 floors only. Military people on scene—BATF/FBI. Bomb threat received last week. Perpetrator unknown at this time. Oklahoma.” The fax, the news stories said, had been sent to Stockman from a prominent Michigan militia leader, and rather than report it directly to the proper authorities, Stockman’s office had sent it to the NRA—before handing the FBI a copy two days later.

That story was wrong. As it happened, Stockman had sent the fax to the FBI almost immediately after receiving it, and the letter had been faxed after the attack. (Someone at his office had just forgotten to reset their machine for daylight savings time.) But the decision to send the memo to the NRA was curious, as was the fact that Stockman was receiving correspondence from someone with ties to a militia.  His Oklahoma City fiasco might have been written off as bad luck were it not for two other documents that appeared around the same time.

First, a month before the bombing, Stockman and a handful of other Republican congressmen wrote to Attorney General Janet Reno urging her to consider what he called an “impending raid” on militias. He had specifics. According to Stockman, the Bureau of Alochol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and a US Army unit called Joint Task Force Six were planning on launching a “paramilitary-style attack against Americans” at 4 a.m. on either March 25 or 26, 1995. The result, Stockman warned, could be a “bloody fiasco like Waco.”

The problem: According to the Department of Justice, there was no such raid in the works. The Army unit in question was working on border security. Stockman was cagey about the source of his information, attributing it to “a number of reliable sources.” But before he sent the letter, militia and NRA message boards had been bubbling over with rumors of a crackdown.

After the news of the Reno letter leaked, Guns & Ammo magazine published an essay Stockmann had penned for its June issue. In it, he alleged that the Waco siege was part of a government plot to generate momentum for an assault weapons ban. “Waco was supposed to be a way for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Clinton administration to prove the need for a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons,'” Stockman wrote.

Reno, he argued, should have been charged with “premeditated murder” and the cult members at David Koresh’s compound had been “executed.”