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Former U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman indicted on felony charge

A former U.S. Congressman from southeast Texas who has often been in the center of controversy, was in federal court Thursday, accused of conspiring to violate federal election law during his last term in office.

In 2011 Steve Stockman set up a non-profit called Life Without Limits in Las Vegas, according to a sworn statement by FBI special agent Vanessa Walther that was filed in U.S. District Court in Houston by prosecutors . A single, unnamed contributor in Chicago donated $350,000 to the charity for the purpose of renovating a house in Washington, D.C. called the “Freedom House,” which would serve as a meeting place and training facility, according to the affidavit.

Stockman deposited the check at a bank in Webster, Texas into a Life Without Limits account. Prior to the deposit, the account had a balance of $33.48, according to the affidavit.

“Rather than spending the money on the ‘Freedom House,’ Stockman secretly diverted the funds to pay for a variety of personal expenses and to fund illegal contributions to Stockman’s campaigns for public office,” says the affidavit.

Freedom House was never opened, says the affidavit.

Stockman then allegedly funneled back to himself through donations made by his employees, according to the affidavit, sworn before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith on Wednesday.

The affidavit also says a director for special projects and a special assistant in Stockman’s congressional office were also involved in violations of campaign finance violations.

Stockman, a Republican firebrand, served as a congressman from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2013 to 2015. He ran unsuccessfully in the 2014 election for U.S. Senate but lost in the Republican primary to incumbent John Cornyn.

He gained national attention for controversial comments.

In 2013, for example, he tweeted, “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”

That year he also invited right-wing musician Ted Nugent as his guest during President Obama’s State of the Union address. The address came a couple of months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, when Obama was making a push to expand gun regulation. Stockman and Nugent opposed the Obama administration’s efforts.

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