Sometimes You Have to Wonder About Texas: Steve Stockman

Former Rep. Steve Stockman. Photo credit Gage Skidmore

Former Rep. Steve Stockman. Photo credit Gage Skidmore

Sometimes you have to wonder about Texas.

The latest reason to make you shake your head is the indictment of former Texas U.S. Representative Steve Stockman. Stockman was first elected to the U.S. House in 1994, defeating 21-term Democratic Rep. Jack Brooks, the chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Stockman quickly made his mark by publishing an article accusing the Clinton administration of staging the Waco raid on the Branch Davidians as a way to justify a ban on assault weapons. Stockman next a letter to his colleagues attacking homosexuality and premarital sex. Stockman also said of the Violence Against Women Act, “It’s called a women’s act, but then they have men dressed up as women, they count that. Change-gender, or whatever. How is that—how is that a woman?” Stockman lost his seat the next year to Democrat Nick Lampson 53-47, and his comeback attempts failed in 1998 and 2006.

But in 2012, after the latest Texas gerrymandering, Stockman won the GOP nomination for a new safely Republican east Texas seat. During the campaign, Stockman attacked his primary opponent with fake tabloids blazing headlines like, “Stephen Takach drove family friend into bankruptcy” and “Takach smears Stockman for taking care of his Alzheimer’s-stricken father.” Stockman also put up signs calling for voters to “Re-elect Stockman,” even though he had been out of office for almost 16 years. .

On his return to the U.S. House, Stockman quickly picked up where he left off and threatened to impeach Barack Obama. He printed bumper stickers declaring, “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted.”

Stockman faced no credible primary opposition and could have easily secured a second consecutive term in 2014, but instead, at almost the last possible second, Stockman inexplicably filed to challenge Sen. John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate instead.

Stockman’s race began with news that local Texas authorities had recently condemned his campaign headquarters, which housed workers and volunteers in utterly disgusting conditions. Stockman raised little money, earned no influential endorsements made no plans. He made almost no campaign appearances, stopped showing up to debates, and disappeared from public view for weeks.

Stockman’s old mug shot from a 1977 arrest for felony possession of Valium surfaced, which led Stockman to deny he’d ever been arrested, even though he’d spoken at length about the incident in the 1990s. Stockman predictably was crushed 59%-19% and was out of a job the next year. That wasn’t the end of the Stockman story.

No Stockman has been indicted. Back in 2011, he set up a charity called Life Without Limits, a year before his second successful run for the U.S. House House. An unknown contributor gave the “charity” $350,000. The criminal complaint charges that Stockman funneled the charity’s monies to his failed political campaign. That’s a violation of both the federal election laws and the federal tax laws regulating charities.

Stockman blamed a “deep state” shadow government conspiracy for the charges and his arrest, saying he is innocent of allegations he conspired to divert charitable contributions to his political campaign and personal use. “Deep state,” indeed. That would be federal prosecutors doing their jobs, enforcing the criminal laws of the United States.

His defense lawyers don’t share Stockman’s views of the “deep state,” but their statement is telling:

We’ve just met Steve, but a couple of things have been pretty clear. Number one, that he’s a man of faith. Number two, that he’s a fighter. And three, most of all, he has tremendous faith in the Constitution of the United States of America.

In WC’s circle of public defender friends, that statement, which is conspicuously silent as to guilt or innocence, would translate as “We’ll try and cut a plea.”

Sometimes you have to wonder about Texas.