Two weeks after then conservative firebrand Congressman Steve Stockman of Texas filed a resolution calling for the arrest of Lois Lerner in July 2014, FBI agents showed up at his door informing the lawmaker he was the subject of a criminal investigation.
Now Stockman is less than two weeks away from learning if he will spend the rest of his life in prison, even as a key witness who testified for the government in its trial against the former congressman says he’s an innocent man.
Supporters contend the Texan is a victim of “deep state” retaliation and are calling on President Donald Trump to pardon him.
Stockman, who represented the 36th congressional district just east of Houston from 2013 to 2015, was convicted in April of misuse of funds donated to nonprofits he was connected to for personal and campaign-related purposes, The Texas Tribune reported.
The 61-year-old faces up to 283 years in prison for the 23 charges, which nearly all relate back to checks he received from two donors totaling about $950,000.
Federal prosecutors accused Stockman of misleading the donors about the intended purpose of the funds, which the former congressman’s legal team denied, arguing the spending was consistent with the nonprofit’s mission, including educating the electorate.
A significant portion of the funds were spent for a mailer that went out statewide contrasting Stockman’s positions with those of Sen. John Cornyn, who the congressman challenged in the 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary. The mailer, put out by the Center for the American Future, did not expressly advocate for Stockman.
Other funds were used to support an educational initiative for congressional interns.
In a recent interview with The Western Journal, Stockman’s wife Patti contended the campaign finance laws in question are normally handled through the Federal Election Commission, not the Department of Justice, and involve fines for wrongdoing, not a lifetime in prison.
“Two different scales are being used for Democrats versus Republicans. President Obama himself had campaign finance violations and no felony was brought. He was merely fined,” she said.
She believes her husband is being punished for exposing wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton, in regards to the Clinton Foundation, and former IRS official Lois Lerner and former President Barack Obama.
“My husband was very vocal and very public with his aggressiveness in exposing the Obama administration. He was the first one to expose the ransom payment for Bowe Bergdahl,” Patti recounted.
A compilation video, published on the couple’s YouTube account, demonstrates some of his fiery stands against the Obama administration.
Another video put together by Stockman’s supporters advocates for his pardon.
The congressman’s former legislative director, John Velleco, appears in the video to argue that the criminal investigation into his former boss was a retaliatory move by the Obama administration’s DOJ.
“Within weeks of Congressman Stockman introducing a resolution that would have identified the Justice Department officials Lois Lerner colluded with to target Tea Party activists, Congressman Stockman himself became the target of a DOJ Public Integrity Division investigation,” Velleco said.
Texas attorney Benjamin Wetmore, who testified for the government against Stockman at trial, also believes the former lawmaker has been treated wrongly.
“I was a key FBI witness and, as an attorney who reviewed the case and the allegations made against Stockman, I carry the burden of knowing that he’s completely innocent,” he wrote in a column earlier this month.
Wetmore told The Western Journal that the outcome in Stockman’s case was a “total injustice at every level.”
“It was an injustice at the pre-trial level,” he said. “It was an injustice at the trial level. It was an injustice in the level of discovery they used against him.”
In his lengthy piece in defense of Stockman, Wetmore recounted that the DOJ used its nearly unlimited resources to overwhelm Stockman’s small legal team with a 250,000 document discovery order.
After looking into the trove of the congressman’s life, he explained that prosecutors built their case on donations to two nonprofits that had been associated with Stockman.
“I was an attorney for one of them,” wrote Wetmore. “But the charges against Stockman turned on donations, $800,000 of which was given after he was in office.”
He continued, “The four gifts were from two individuals, the now-deceased Stanford Rothschild, a financier and art collector from Baltimore, and Richard Uihlein, the billionaire owner of the Uline office supply business. The government claimed that both were essentially defrauded into making donations to nonprofits. While the donations involved totaled $915,000, the government and press continued to repeat the amount of $1.2 million — less money than Hillary reflected in tax returns as ‘other expenses’ of the Clinton Foundation nonprofit.”
Much of the case rested on the nebulous fraud charges, which Wetmore wrote were presented to the jury in such a way as to make them believe Stockman was wrongfully using funds donated to nonprofits for personal use.
“He had legally drawn a salary from the $115,000 given in 2012 when he worked for the nonprofit before going to Congress. Of the monies given in 2013 or 2014, not a dime ever went to Stockman,” Wetmore related.
He told The Journal the government brought into the trial expenses dating back to 2008, which had nothing to do with the donations in question.
“It just shows you how much of a stretch they have to go to, because they don’t have any Rolexes; they don’t have any yachts; they don’t have any strip clubs,” Wetmore said. “They don’t have any salacious things to point to, so they have to really stretch in order to get him.”
Asked if he felt the prosecution against Stockman was politically motivated, Wetmore replied, “I was really reluctant to believe that, because I don’t like the conspiracy theory angle, especially when it comes to legal issues, but I saw it up close. I spoke with the prosecutors and the FBI.”
“I could see it in the FBI agent’s face personally, that he knew what he was doing was wrong, and that was really shocking,” he added. “It was really shocking to see people who were doing their jobs begrudgingly knowing they did not agree with what was going down.”
In an unusual move, federal prosecutors petitioned the court to have Stockman held in prison while he awaits his sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for November 7.
He has been behind bars since April.
Former federal prosecutor and fellow Texan Sidney Powell told The Journal earlier this year, “That Congressman Stockman is in prison now before he is even sentenced is a further outrage calculated to impede his ability to appeal and to break him.”
“I’m appalled at what the Department of ‘Justice’ has become. It has completely lost the trust and respect of the people,” she said.
Patti Stockman considers her husband a political prisoner, and she is hoping Trump will pardon him.
“It was Stalin’s right hand man in the KGB who said show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime,” she said. “That’s what the Department of Justice does, and that’s why we’re seeing this with many outspoken conservatives.”
“This is bigger than Steve Stockman,” Patti maintained.
“It’s the state of our nation. It’s Steve Stockman today; it may be your neighbor tomorrow, or even you.”
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