Rep. Steve Stockman will continue to be investigated by the House Ethics Committee to determine whether he violated federal reporting requirements for campaign donations from two employees of his congressional office.
In making the announcement, the typically secretive committee was required to release a report from another investigative agency that—for the first time publicly—details the accusations against the Texas Republican.
The report, from the Office of Congressional Ethics, says that Stockman's congressional committee allegedly filed Federal Election Commission reports identifying 2013 contributions as having been made by family members of the employees, not the employees themselves. The allegations also include claims that Stockman paid the two employees for full-time work when they may have only been performing official duties part-time.
OCE, in referring the matter to the Ethics Committee, writes in the report that if Stockman made or filed false official statements or otherwise attempted to mislead investigators, he may have violated federal law and House rules.
The report notes that Stockman and several staffers refused to cooperate by testifying or providing documents to OCE during its initial investigation.
Two of those employees were ultimately fired in October, according to published accounts last year.
Stockman issued a statement Wednesday: "While we did experience some FEC reporting errors, the fact is that we acknowledged and corrected them in due course. I never resented the Ethics Committee looking into the reporting mistakes, but the OCE investigators were poorly trained and extremely unprofessional and repeatedly violated the rules we have set up to deal with this type of inquiry."
Earlier this year Stockman released a statement attributing the investigation to a filing error with the FEC made by an accountant who was a campaign volunteer.
The committee could have dropped the case outright if it found no reason to continue with its inquiry. Even so, Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., stopped short of announcing in a joint statement that a special investigative subcommittee with subpoena powers will be formed to expand the inquiry. Any formal recommendation on whether Stockman violated House standards of conduct and, if so, should receive punishment, ultimately would have to go through such a panel.
In their committee announcement, Conaway and Sanchez note that "the mere fact of conducting further review … does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect the judgment on behalf of the committee." Conaway and Sanchez provided no time frame for when an update will occur.
Rather, the matter has been designated for further review under Committee Rule 18(a), a designation that has enabled a number of other ethics cases against Democrats and Republican to languish, some for years, without further comment.
This article appears in the June 12, 2014 edition of NJ Daily.
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