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Case Of Former Congressman Steve Stockman Heads To Jury

In its closing arguments, the government cast Stockman’s charitable fundraising efforts a series of lies aimed at enriching himself and paying for his political campaigns. Defense attorneys argued the conservative donors who gave to Stockman knew full well how he planned to use the money.

Steve Stockman
Steve and Patti Stockman emerging from Houston’s federal courthouse, April 5, 2017

Attorneys have made their closing arguments in the trial of former Congressman Steve Stockman. Stockman is accused of defrauding two wealthy conservative donors of more than $1 million – claiming he was raising money for charitable purposes, then using the money for his own ends.

Government lawyers cast Stockman’s fundraising endeavors as a series of lies, all aimed at raising money for campaign and personal expenses. “The defendant cheated his way into the United States Congress using stolen charity money,” said attorney Ryan Ellersick, “then used that prestige to keep the scam going.”

Defense attorneys countered that the government’s own evidence made it clear that the donors knew from the beginning that Stockman was raising money for his own campaigns. And that understanding meant there was no fraud.

“The government still doesn’t get it,” said defense counsel Sean Buckley. “This should never have been filed as a fraud case. This is about how rich megadonors provide money to politicians and why they do it.”

Buckley and his co-counsels alleged the donors aimed to hide the extent of their own contributions, because direct contributions to Stockman on such a scale violated federal election laws. The one donor who testified in the trial, Richard Uihlein, said he believed his donations were meant for charitable purposes. The other donor, Stanford Rothschild, died in 2017.

The case is now in the hands of the jury.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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