Former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman, a onetime tea party activist who had a flair for disrupting the establishment in Washington, has been convicted on 23 counts related to financial crimes.
A jury in Houston returned the verdicts for the former Texas congressman, who was charged with defrauding conservative mega-donors and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into personal and campaign expenses.
According to the Texas Tribune, a jury on Thursday ruled Stockman guilty of all but one of the 24 felony counts, clearing him of a count of wire fraud.
His defense team said the verdict will be appealed, and supporters pointed to the case of former Texas Republican congressman Tom DeLay, whose conviction and prison sentence for election law conspiracy was overturned several years later when an appeals court ruled the evidence was “insufficient.”
“Mr. Stockman is keeping his head up and we’re looking forward to getting through to the next stage of this,” Sean Buckley, a defense lawyer, told the newspaper.
Stockman served in Congress from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2013 to 2014.
He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014 against incumbent Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, forcing the establishment GOP in Washington to expend huge sums to keep Cornyn in office. Stockman’s supporters suggested at the time it likely deprived the Washington political machine of money that could have been used against other tea party candidates.
He famously criticized the government’s handling of the Waco siege, in which women and children were killed in a firefight that ended a long standoff between the federal government and a cult. And he called for a congressional investigation into Alfred Kinsey’s 1948 writings about men and sex after learning that Kinsey included in his study the data from the diary of a pedophile.
He also opposed Obamacare and supported allowing schools to enhance safety by removing the Gun-Free School Zones Act.
In 2014, the House Ethics Committee began looking into what he described as a campaign finance reporting error that he said was soon corrected.
The Tribune said the verdict puts Stockman “at risk of decades in federal prison.”
He was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals at Thursday’s sentencing after prosecutors claimed he was a flight risk.
The charges included mail and wire fraud, money laundering and federal election law violations.
Essentially, he was charged with using charitable donations for projects and activities unrelated to the charities to which they were donated.
His defense lawyers insisted the donors gave him broad leeway in deciding how to use the funds.
Two former aides, Thomas Dodd and Jason Posey, earlier pleaded guilty and, in deals with prosecutors, testified against Stockman.
Stockman has blamed the case against him on the “deep state,” referring to established bureaucrats who largely run government.
And they often don’t want to put up with those who want to change the way things always have been done.
Stockman’s defenders run the Defend a Patriot website, where they point out he “was a vocal opponent of the agendas of the Clinton and Obama administrations.
The site points says the left “hates Steve,” because of, among other things, his call for the arrest of former IRS official Lois Lerner, and his stances on illegal immigration and the Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram.