HOUSTON – Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has been charged with illegally diverting charitable donations to fund his campaign, according to FBI documents.
Stockman is facing two charges of conspiracy to make campaign contributions and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission. He was arrested March 16 and later released on $25,000 bond. If convicted, Stockman faces federal prison.
Stockman is accused of violating federal election law by taking charitable contributions of close to $800,000 from two charitable organizations, according to a plea deal signed in Houston by Thomas Dodd, Stockman's former campaign worker and 2013 congressional special assistant to Stockman.
According to allegations in Dodd's plea deal, a $350,000 donation to Stockman’s campaign in 2013 from the Chicago-based Ed Uihlein Family Foundation was funneled back to himself. The donation was intended to pay for the renovation of a house in Washington, D.C., known as the Freedom House, which was going to be a meeting center for congressional interns.
Rather than use the funds for the house, Stockman secretly diverted the funds into a personal account he created, designating it a nonprofit called Life Without Limits, according to the statement.
The Freedom House was never built.
Dodd's plea agreement also states that he and Stockman diverted a $425,000 charitable donation for voter education from the Baltimore-based Rothschild Charitable Foundation and Rothschild Art Foundation.
Dodd stated that most of the donations were spent on Stockman's credit card debt and personal expenses.
Stockman served a term in Congress from 1995 to 1997 and then again from 2013 to 2015, when he represented the East Texas district. He lost a 2014 bid against incumbent John Cornyn.
In addition to the two conspiracy charges, the Justice Department is also investigating other campaign conspiracies and wire and mail fraud by Stockman’s office, based on Dodd’s testimony.
Stockman will appear in court April 11.
Stockman could not be immediately reached for comment.