The Office of Congressional Ethics, in a unanimous 6-0 decision, found “substantial reason” to believe that Rep. Steve Stockman broke a host of campaign finance laws and House ethics rules, and recommended that he and a number of his aides be subpoenaed to testify.
A 30-page report, which cites Sunlight Foundation reporting that prompted the investigation of several questionable campaign contributions, accuses the Texas Republican of:
- “[C]onspir[ing] to accept contributions to his congressional campaign from individuals who were prohibited from contributing;”
- Lying on his employees’ payroll authorization forms, and
- Having made “attempts to impede the OCE inquiry.”
The report cites nine individuals associated with the Stockman campaign — including the congressman — as being uncooperative with OCE and recommended that subpoenas be issued for their appearance.
The back story: Read all of Sunlight’s reporting on Steve Stockman
According to the preparers, Stockman offered varying explanations for the apparently illegal contributions from two employees of his congressional office, Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey. Although the contributions were initially made in the names of family members of the staffers, they were reattributed after Sunlight reported that one of the supposed donors had no knowledge of the contribution. When Sunlight pointed out that campaign contributions by congressional staffers are illegal, Dodd and Posey were fired. The OCE reported quoted Stockman as explaining he thought his staffers were “culpably gullible.”
Though Stockman declined to sit for an interview with the committee he offered varying accounts for the contributions in an e-mail and letter responses, including arguing that his staffers’ contributions were legal because they were made during a less-than 24-hour period when, according to the congressman, they were temporarily off his official payroll.
The report emphasized the congressman’s sometimes contradictory explanations:
“Representative Stockman’s initial response acknowledged the contributions made by Mr.Posey and Mr. Dodd and emphasized remedial measures that Representative Stockman had taken. His second response introduced additional facts that contradicted both his initial response to the OCE and statements made to the FEC, asserting that Mr. Posey and Mr. Dodd had not been employed by his congressional office at the time they made the contributions to Representative Stockman’s campaign – rather, they made the contributions in the period between their resignation from congressional employment on February 12, 2013, and their re-appointment on February 13, 2013.”
Noting that paperwork about the alleged resignations was not filed with House officials until 10 months later, the OCE noted that it “does not find Representive Stockman’s assertion that Mr. Posey and Mr. Dodd were terminated and rehired in February 2013 to be credible.” The OCE board, a bipartisan group that includes former members of Congress, cited Stockman’s “lack of cooperation” in recommending that he and other staff members be subpoenaed.
The OCE recommendations now moves the investigation to the House Ethics Committee, whose jurisdiction is effectively limited to the end of the year. Stockman ran unsuccessfully against veteran Sen. John Cornyn, a fellow Republican, in this year’s Texas primary and will be leaving Congress when his term expires on Jan 3.