Politics

Jury Begins Deliberation in Stockman Case

Former Texas congressman had a history of trolling the media and voters

Closing arguments ended Monday in the fraud trial of former Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Steve Stockman’s fraud trial is now in the hands of a jury after closing arguments ended Monday.

Stockman is facing 28 charges including funneling more than $1.25 million in charitable donations from wealthy conservative donors to pay for personal and campaign expenses while avoiding paying taxes.

Stockman told donors like the late Ed Uihlein that he would use a $350,000 charitable contribution to pay for a program to house interns on Capitol Hill.

“It was a lie,” said prosecutor Ryan Ellersick, the Texas Tribune reported. “He spent no money on the Freedom House. Zero. Not one dime.”

Instead, prosecutors argued that Stockman used money from Uilhein and others to pay for a friend’s stint in rehabilitation for alcoholism, hot air balloon rides, paying off credit card bills and paying for a half-baked sting operation on a potential political opponent.

In closing arguments, Ellersick argued that Stockman used his title as congressman to benefit himself personally.

“He uses that credibility, that title, and he corrupts it,” Ellersick said. “He does everything in the name of charity, and it’s just about him.”

Whether Stockman is ultimately found guilty, the trial serves as a bookend for a career that could only be described as an elaborate exercise in attempting to get a rise out of voters and the media and focus attention to himself.

Stockman served his first term in Congress from 1995 to 1997 without much in terms of legislative accomplishments.

Rather, he chose to make headlines, such as when he publicly feuded with the mother of a murder victim who refused to allow him to name a bill after her son that would repeal virtually all gun control laws.

He also wrote a piece in Guns & Ammo magazine accusing the Clinton administration of killing members of the Branch Davidian cult “to prove the need for a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons.’”

Stockman would lose his race for re-election in 1996. But he continued his elaborate trolling of voters and the media when he returned to Congress in 2013.

Among his numerous stunts were inviting rock ’n’ roller and gun advocate Ted Nugent to then-President Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address just two months after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that killed six adults and 20 children.

This was despite or perhaps because the musician once said onstage that Obama could “suck on my machine gun.”

Despite being back in the House for only one term, Stockman staged a dubious primary challenge to Republican Whip Sen. John Cornyn.

But that campaign did little in terms of threatening Cornyn and instead was a vehicle for Stockman to divert attention to himself, such as when he called “liberal tears” “the best gun lubricant around.”

But Stockman’s attorney Sean Buckley defended his client and said prosecutors were “throwing spaghetti at the wall” in his closing argument.

“This should never have been filed as a fraud case,” Buckley said. “This is a case about why rich megadonors give money to politicians in America and the methods they use to do it.”

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