House Ethics Extends Stockman Probe

The Texas Republican is being probed for possible campaign finance reporting violations.

Rep. Steve Stockman and Ted Nugent
©2013 Richard A. Bloom
Billy House
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Billy House
June 11, 2014, 12:17 p.m.

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.

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