9 Things the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About the Steve Stockman Trial

Steve Stockman was a conservative Congressman who was prosecuted by the Department of Justice and found guilty on 23 out of 24 counts in April. The case involved four donations from two donors to non-profit organizations. An October 10 Townhall article reported that a case of this nature should take only take about six months to investigate, not four years and four grand juries at an expense of an estimated $20 million before they nailed Stockman.

Stockman has always asserted his innocence, but many of the liberal press have piled on since his conviction, trying to make him out to be a fraud from the start. But the nearly three-week trial had many details that went unreported and uncovered by the press, and these facts paint a very different picture than the one presented to the public and to the jury. Here are a few of those critical facts that are missing from much of the media coverage around Stockman’s trial and conviction:

1) There Were no Complaining Donors, and One Had Already Passed Away

The government claimed that two very wealthy individuals were defrauded: Stansford Rothschild, a financier and art collector from Baltimore, and Richard Uihlein, the owner of the ULine office equipment company. These two donors gave money to non-profits after meeting with Stockman, but neither complained to either the government, their state, or to Stockman about how their donations were spent. In fact, evidence from the trial indicates they were kept aware as to how their funds were spent. The government sought them out.

2) The Government’s Key Witness Knows He’s Innocent

The prosecutors spent a great deal of time questioning and subpoenaing Benjamin Wetmore, a Texas attorney. Wetmore was admonished by the judge prior to his trial testimony, outside the presence of the jury, to not give too much context to questions and to be very succinct. The judge stated, on the record, she was worried that Wetmore would provide too much context to the answers. The reason, from testimony from the Grand Jury and elsewhere, was that Wetmore was very outspoken that Stockman was not just innocent, he was innocent of every single charge alleged. As an attorney and as someone who knew all the people involved in the case, his explanations could have been fatal to the prosecution’s case before the jury, but he was forced by the judge not to give thorough answers. Wetmore has since said that Stockman is completely innocent of the charges.

3) Convicted of Money Laundering and Wire Fraud for Splitting a Deposit, which May Not Have Happened

One of Stockman’s most controversial indictment counts, and convictions, was for splitting a deposit between a checking and a savings account. Cashing one check, and having the funds split into two pieces within the same bank account, resulted in two separate counts of money laundering, each of which came with a 20-year potential prison sentence. However, it is notable that Wells Fargo, where Stockman banked, had settled charges five months before Stockman was indicted for having set up fake and fraudulent accounts themselves, often when people set up new accounts, by creating linked accounts where they would move money into. Not only is it ridiculous to make splitting a deposit like this two separate crimes, multiplying one potentially criminal act, it is appears the bank initiated the account as there’s no proof that it was actually done by Stockman.

4) Convicted of Fraud for a Donor Writing a Check Directly to the USPS

Stockman was convicted of fraud for a third party soliciting funds to cover postage. Typically ‘fraud’ requires something done that isn’t as promised. Donor Richard Uihlein was asked to write a check for postage, to fund an educational newspaper that went out to Texans presenting completely public information on two candidiates, including Stockman. Uihlein wrote the check directly to the USPS. The money was used to pay the postage for the newspapers. On this basis, Stockman was convicted of fraud even though the money was spent exactly as was promised.

5) Only Witness About the ‘Intern Program’ Quit on the First Day, Knew Nothing

One of the primary recruiters for Stockman’s intern program, Sean McMahon, was called by the prosecutors and said that the working conditions were ‘horrific’ because they were expected to make fundraising calls. McMahon now works at the Heritage Foundation. What prosecutors and McMahon didn’t tell the jury or the media, was that McMahon quit on the first day, tried to quit the day before the internship started, and had no idea what the interns did during their time on the Hill. Some made fundraising calls outside the congressional office at the direction of Thomas Dodd because Stockman’s staff couldn’t handle the influx of so many new interns. McMahon was talking about things he couldn’t possibly have known about because he quit to study in England. Not to mention that many of Stockman’s interns were deaf, and weren’t able to make calls.

6) Accused of Raising Millions Abroad, When His Request was to Rebuild Churches in Egypt

Prosecutors told the jury and the media that Stockman tried to raise millions abroad. What they failed to explain was that almost all of those proposals were for charities such as one request to a cement company to rebuild churches destroyed in the Sudan by the Muslim Brotherhood. Even though all of this was irrelevant to the trial, the prosecutors used it to make Stockman look like a fraud, even though he was trying to raise funds for noble purposes. When several African Christian leaders came to testify about how much they appreciated what Stockman tried to do, only one was allowed to testify.

7) Unrelated Personal Expenses on Hot Air Balloons Were Used to Confuse the Jury

The media reported about “hot air balloon” rides and “dolphin rides” to try and show that Stockman misused charitable donations. Those were personal expenses spent from 2010 and 2011, but the indictment was about funds raised in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The government had access to Stockman’s credit cards and cherry-picked unrelated expenses from years prior, to try and say that funds raised later were used to pay off those expenses and somehow related. In reality, they were just trying to show wasteful spending with donor money without explaining that the expenditures had nothing to do with donations. The government prejudiced the jury with expenses like this, knowing that they were entertainment expenses from years prior.

8) Stockman was blamed for running a “Spy Ring” that was really “Undercover Journalism”

Federal officials greatly prejudiced the jury and the media by referring to things with very loaded terms. Someone else having a second cell phone was always referred to as a “burner phone” and journalism projects were “covert surveillance” and a newspaper was “selectively gathered information.” Simple bank transfers were “secret diversion of funds” as another example. Even the charges as presented to the jury, relating to a fundraising proposal by Stockman for an intern program, was referred to as “fraudulent solicitation” even though there is no such crime. The entire trial was filled with Orwellian examples of how simple acts could be made to look criminal.

9) Suspicious Timing to Start the Investigation

A year had passed and one grand jury dismissed, having produced no indictment of Stockman. But a second round of investigations started with a new DOJ team the same month Stockman appeared on Fox to announce he had filed a resolution calling for the arrest of Lois Lerner, July 2014. The FBI testified at his trial that his investigation started that month. One of Stockman’s attorneys was told by a DOJ official that “they were doing this because of Obama and Lois” – Lois Lerner previously led the office that prosecuted Stockman: the so-called Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice.

Stockman was convicted of 23 counts on April 12, and sentenced on November 7, 2018 in Houston, Texas. He’s 62 years old, and the 10-year sentence handed down at this point might be the final act of his life. His experience through this trial should further confirm to all Americans that major, substantive, reforms of both the Department of Justice and the federal criminal system are long overdue.

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