Former congressman Steve Stockman, that wild feller from the One-Star State — who notoriously invited Ted Nugent to Barack Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address — was convicted yesterday on 23 out of 24 felony charges related to defrauding a couple of super-rich Republican donors in a scheme by which he converted supposed charitable donations of $1.25 million into campaign funds and personal funtimes money. Stockman was found guilty on a whole passel of charges, including mail and wire fraud, money laundering, and federal election law violations; the only charge he wasn’t convicted on was one count of wire fraud.
We’re actually not all that excited about the details of how he ripped off the donors — which is fun, with money from a “charity” going to pay for hot-air balloon rides, pricey SkyMall purchases, a bunch of trips, and 30 days of inpatient alcoholism treatment for a “female associate,” which does at least seem awfully charitable. But boy, oh, boy, what a swell defense Stockman offered for all that hinky spending: His lawyers argued that Stockman couldn’t have defrauded the donors, because they knew darn well they weren’t giving money to a charity, they were just making perfectly honest illegal campaign contributions like anybody else and what is the big deal?
[They] described the contributions not as co-opted charitable gifts but rather as campaign donations slyly disguised as nonprofit philanthropy […]
“This should never have been filed as a fraud case,” Buckley told the jury. “This is a case about why rich megadonors give money to politicians in America and the methods they use to do it.”
Stockman never defrauded either donor, [attorney Sean] Buckley insisted; rather, one donor gave money to Stockman through a charity in a “wink-wink deal” that would allow him to disguise a campaign donation and evade the associated taxes. The other major donor denied the true purpose of his donation years after giving it in an effort to shield himself in an FBI investigation, Buckley claimed.
So you see, it can’t be fraud if it was actually felony campaign-finance violations, a tradition honorably practiced by Dinesh D’Souza and Michael Cohen ALLEGEDLY. (Not allegedly for D’Souza, of course; he was properly d’convicted!)
Also, Steve Stockman’s conviction ought to have a couple of other currently compromised Republicans worried. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, and that other Duncan guy, John J. Duncan of Tennessee, are facing some heavy-duty campaign finance violations in the House Ethics Committee, which is where Stockman’s own criminal grifting came up a few years ago. Our recommendation to the Grifty Duncans: don’t base your defense on the claim that you were too busy robbing banks to commit campaign law crimes.
And now it is your OPEN THREAD, dearest Wonkers. See you in two hours when Trump fires Jim Comey AGAIN.
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