TEXAS TRIBUNE -- Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, has been charged with violating federal election law.
Stockman conspired with former congressional employees to funnel money intended for a charity to his campaign, according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent unsealed Thursday. He is also accused of making false statements to the Federal Election Commission.
The allegations center on a $350,000 donation Stockman solicited from an unnamed businessman shortly after taking office in 2013, according to the statement. The money was supposed to go to a Las Vegas-based nonprofit called Life Without Limits, but Stockman instead "secretly diverted the funds to pay for a variety of personal expenses and to fund illegal contributions to Stockman's campaigns for public office," the statement said.
The criminal complaint describes the charges as “Conspiracy to Make Conduit Contributions and False Statements."
Stockman could not be immediately reached for comment. The Houston TV station KPRC reported late Thursday that Stockman had appeared in court earlier that day "shackled and handcuffed." Bail was set at $25,000 and Stockman was working to find an attorney, according to the TV station.
Stockman, who is from the Houston area, served twice in Congress during the 1990s and 2010s. He gave up his seat to unsuccessfully challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the 2014 primary.
Stockman has previously faced questions about his ties to Life Without Limits. The group was set up in 2011 in Nevada with the goal of helping people who have dealt with trauma in their lives. A year later, Stockman opened a number of bank accounts under his name doing business as Life Without Limits, according to the statement.
The $350,000 donation was intended to pay for the renovation of a house in Washington, D.C., known as the "Freedom House," according to the statement, which described the house as a "meeting place and training facility" for Life Without Limits. The house never opened.
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