Steve Stockman’s Senate Campaign Accused of Violating Campaign Finance Law

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 28 2014 4:42 PM

Steve Stockman’s Senate Campaign Accused of Violating Campaign Finance Law

Five months ago, when he was clearing the decks for his quixotic U.S. Senate campaign, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman parted ways with his campaign treasurer. Jason Posey, who'd worked with Stockman since his first stint in Congress (1995 to 1997), had filed a false report, disguising his own donation (and that of a colleague, also working for Stockman), crediting it to a relative. Posey was out.

But he didn't vanish completely. Two months before leaving the Stockman camapign, Posey had incorporated a new group called the Center for the American Future. In a form submitted to the Texas secretary of state on Aug. 28, 2013, Posey was listed as the "registered agent" of the center, which didn't do much for the first months of its existence.

Stockman's primary got closer. The center sprang into action. Over the last month, Texas Republican voters started receiving unsolicited publications called "The Conservative News," full of negative information about Stockman's opponent, Sen. John Cornyn. Stockman's campaign denied having anything to do with the newspapers, though—funny enough—they resembled mailings voters had received in his previous races. The newspapers were coming from the Center for the American Future, which happened to be run by Stockman's former treasurer.

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On Feb. 24, the Center put out a statement declaring that it supported no candidate and that its newsletters were not produced in coordination with any campaign. Nobody could prove otherwise. Days later, though, the Texas-based journalist Lee Stranahan noticed a security hole in the Center's website, an open window into the WordPress-based site's content. Brett Rogers, the manager of Senate candidate Dwayne Stovall's campaign, noticed that the accidentally public information included a few days of donor confirmations. Without violating the privacy of those donors, again, I can say how they were earmarked: "Stockman for Senate 2014 Donation."

I asked the Center and the Stockman campaign what could explain all of that. If I get a response, I'll post it. In the meantime, Stovall's campaign is preparing two FEC complaints against Stockman's campaign. One will argue that the CAF mailing was part of an effort to use a nonprofit with "direct ties to a political campaign" to send out campaign materials. Another will ask the FEC to look at "Asian Republicans of Harris County," an apparent shell organization (its website was registered 10 days ago) created to send pro-Stockman mail.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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