Former Tea Party darling Steve Stockman arrested for felony election law violations

The former Texas Republican congressman is facing time in federal prison

By Matthew Rozsa
March 17, 2017 11:45PM (UTC)
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Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas (Facebook/congressmanstockman)

Tea Party darling Steve Stockman, who served two non-consecutive terms in Congress from 1995 to 1997 and 2013 to 2015, used to be best known for inviting an Obama-mask wearing rodeo clown to perform in his state and walking out of the former president's State of the Union address.

Now, though, he may wind up being most famous for going to jail.


The former Texas Republican was jailed on Thursday and accused in federal court on Friday of conspiring with two former employees to violate federal election laws. Prosecutors allege that Stockman created a non-profit in Las Vegas called Life Without Limits in 2011 and then planned to funnel thousands in donations made by his employees to himself for personal use. During his second term in office, Stockman accepted one such donation for $350,000.

At an initial hearing on Thursday, Stockman appeared surprised when Judge Stephen Smith told him that he was required to obtain an attorney by 2 p.m. on Friday.

"I'll have to hustle with that," Stockman told the judge.


"Yeah, you will. These are serious charges," the judge said.

Stockman's bail has been set at $25,000.

Before his campaign fundraising issues, Stockman had lofty political ambitions. He challenged Texas Sen. John Cornyn for the Republican senatorial nomination in 2014 by repeatedly referring to him as "Liberal John Cornyn." Given that Cornyn was ranked as the second most conservative Senator of 2012 (the year before Stockman announced his bid), the National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman referred to Stockman's primary campaign as "quite the head scratcher."

Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Campaign Finance Laws Republicans Steve Stockman Tea Party