Raise your hand if you’re the least bit surprised by this.
The House ethics committee is inquiring into the campaign finances of Rep. Steve Stockman, the Clear Lake Republican who has been questioned repeatedly over the last year about misreported campaign contributions and deficient disclosures.
A spokesman for Stockman acknowledged the inquiry Friday, and the committee itself is expected to announce it Monday.
The Houston Chronicle reported last year that two of Stockman’s staffers were fired in October for making prohibited contributions to the campaign. Stockman spokesman Donny Ferguson told the newspaper then that Jason Posey and Thomas Dodd had been fired from Stockman’s House office.
The scope of the ethics review is not public information, and the statement Ferguson released on Friday did not clearly describe it.
Brett Kappel, a Washington, D.C. attorney who specializes in campaign-finance law, said the allegations against Stockman, which include reporting contributions under incorrect names, appear “pretty egregious. He’ll be in office until January, and they could proceed with it.”
But Kappel said the committee also could defer to the Federal Election Commission or to the Department of Justice.
I just want to point out that while Stockman will be leaving office in January, he could come back again someday. His, um, unique qualifications for office would make him a contender in any race in a deep-red district.
“Congressman Stockman continues to kind of amaze me … He doesn’t admit any responsibility for what happened in his campaign. Instead I see obfuscation,” said Kathleen Clark, a Washington, D.C.-based professor of law with Washington University who specializes in government ethics.
In addition to the prohibited contributions, the Chronicle has reported on other questions about Stockman’s campaign finances and his personal financial disclosures.
The Chronicle reported:
- The Clear Lake Republican’s House campaign has been notified by the FEC of dozens of potential problems with its filings in 2012 and 2013, including the misreported donations.
- Stockman’s personal financial disclosure to the House Ethics Committee was filed nearly a year late and failed to disclose some assets and business affiliations as required by federal law. The disclosure also failed to fully identify the source of $350,000 in income that Stockman claimed in 2011 and 2012.
- The FEC filed two complaints against Stockman campaigns in the 1990s, one of which resulted in a $40,000 civil penalty, and one in the last two years, which was dismissed.
I’ll say this much for the man: You know exactly what you’re getting with Steve Stockman. The 12-year gap between his tenures in Congress clearly did not cause any erosion in his skills.