Former Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman blamed a “deep state” conspiracy for his arrest related to campaign finance charges.
Stockman, who was released on a $25,000 bond Friday after being arrested the night before, said he was being targeted for criticizing the IRS, the Houston Chronicle reported.
“This is part of a deep state that’s continuing to progress,” he said after a hearing. Stockman cited a right-wing conspiracy theory that the IRS targeted conservative groups.
Stockman is being charged with diverting money from a charitable organization called Life Without Limits to his political campaign and for personal use.
According to court documents filed with the criminal complaint, Stockman allegedly solicited a donation of $350,000 from an unidentified “wealthy” Chicago businessman for build a so-called “Freedom House” in Washington to serve as a meeting and training facility in Washington.
“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," court documents filed with the criminal complaint stated.
Stockman said after his hearing that the amount in dispute is $15,000, not $350,000 as the government alleges.
The former congressman is also charged with making false statements when reporting campaign contributions.
Stockman served in the House from 1995 to 1997 and was elected to a second term in 2012 before running a losing primary challenge against Sen. John Cornyn in 2014.