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Ex-GOP Rep. charged with stealing charitable donations

By Eric DuVall

March 17 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors charged a former Republican congressman from Texas with election law fraud for making illegal campaign contributions to himself with money intended to be donated to charity.

Former Rep. Steve Stockman, who served two terms in the U.S. House, most recently from 2013-15, was brought into court Thursday in handcuffs. He was charged with making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, according to a criminal complaint by the FBI unsealed Friday.

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According to FBI agents, Stockman accepted a $350,000 donation from an unnamed wealthy businessman for the Las Vegas-based charity Life Without Limits. The money was ostensibly given to renovate the Washington national headquarters of a group known as Freedom House. Instead, investigators said, Stockman deposited the check into a business bank account he started and began using the money for personal expenses routed through donations to his campaign account made by himself and others.

Records showed none of the money went to Freedom House.

A judge set bail in the case at $25,000 and Stockman was ordered to appear Friday with legal counsel.

Stockman served two non-consecutive terms in the House, one from 1995-97. He was elected on a conservative Tea Party platform in 2012. Two years later he gave up his seat to mount a failed last-minute challenge against Republican Sen. John Cornyn in the GOP Senate primary. Stockman had hoped to capitalize on conservative anger at mainstream Republicans like Cornyn who voted to end the 2013 government shutdown.

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