Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, is the subject of a congressional ethics inquiry that has moved to House Committee on Ethics, according to a press release on his congressional website. From the congressman: “My office is aware of and is cooperating fully with the Ethics Committee’s preliminary inquiry into an FEC reporting error.”
This news follows a series of reports by the Sunlight Foundation that:
- Staffers in Stockman’s congressional office had contributed money to the campaign in family members’ names;
- Stockman’s campaign neglected to report at least $16,000 in campaign contributions and,
- After Stockman’s spokesman denied receiving the money — treasurers from the PACs behind these contributions confirmed that their checks had been cashed.
The statement from Stockman’s office claims the investigation blames a filing error: “The FEC reporting error was committed more than a year ago by an accountant who was a campaign volunteer. Rep. Stockman caused the mistake to be corrected more than six months ago, less than a week after he became aware of it. The accountant responsible for the mistake was removed from his position and the campaign committee has since been closed.”
This appears to be referring to Jason Posey, who was the committee’s treasurer as well as a congressional staffer to the congressman. The campaign filings indicating that the campaign had received $15,000 from family members of Posey and Thomas Dodd (another staffer in Stockman’s congressional office) were amended six days after Sunlight reported that one of the supposed donors denied making the contribution.
MORE: See all of our stories on Steve Stockman.
The money was then reattributed to the staffers in question. This only deepened the problems for Stockman’s campaign as congressional staffers are expressly prohibited from contributing to their boss’s campaign in any circumstance. Though Thomas Dodd had initially told Sunlight that he did not make the contribution, the $7,500 was refunded to him. Posey also got back his contribution.
As campaign treasurer, Jason Posey signed off on all of these filings.
In a statement to the Houston Chronicle, Stockman’s Media Director Donny Ferguson said that both men had been fired from the campaign. As the Chronicle reported in Dec. 2013, Posey has worked with Stockman for the better part of two decades in business and politics.
The House Ethics Committee will have to work at an uncharacteristically brisk pace if Stockman were to suffer any consequences. The congressman has just Stockman has just eight months left in Congress, after losing a longshot — and unconventional — bid to upset Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas in last month’s Texas primary. The House Ethics Committee generally does not pursue enforcement matters after a member leaves Congress, as noted in a statement following former Rep. Trey Radel’s resignation.