Now, some of Stockman’s statements regarding his own past are drawing more attention.
Last week, the Friendswood Republican filed a libel lawsuit in Harris County against a PAC supporting Cornyn. Since late last year, that PAC, Texans for a Conservative Majority, has run television ads and promoted a website that raise questions about Stockman’s character. In the suit, Stockman accuses the group of spreading untrue statements including “falsely asserting that he was charged with a felony.”
“This case involves some of the most outrageous, malicious defamation ever recorded in Harris County,” the suit reads.
Yet a man named Stephen Ernest Stockman with the same birthday as Stockman was arrested in Michigan in 1977 and initially charged with felony possession of diazepam, also known as Valium, records show. What’s more, Stockman spoke openly about such an incident during his first term in Congress in the mid-1990s. He told The Dallas Morning News in 1995 that he had reported to jail for a two-day sentence stemming from a traffic violation and officers found three 10 milligram tablets of Valium in his underwear during a strip search. Stockman pleaded no contest to “use of a controlled substance” – a misdemeanor – with the understanding that it would be dropped after a short period of “unofficial” probation, according to the article.
Stockman’s office did not respond to a request for comment Monday for this story.
Along with conflicting statements about his youth, Stockman also might have inflated his role in the recent congressional debate over immigration reform.
A congressional newsletter emailed from Stockman’s office Monday reads, “Last year, Stockman successfully killed the Senate's amnesty bill with the ‘Blue Slip’ procedure to declare it unconstitutional.” The claim is one that a Stockman campaign representative also made at a Tea Party event in January.
When employed in the U.S. House, a “blue slip” is a procedure by which the House rejects a Senate bill because it is believed to have violated a clause of the Constitution requiring that all revenue-raising measures originate in the House.
Marc Rosenblum, a senior policy analyst at the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, followed the immigration debate in Congress closely last year. When asked about Stockman’s “blue slip,” he said he didn’t remember it. After researching it, he said Stockman did indeed request in June that House Speaker John Boehner use a “blue slip” resolution to kill Senate Bill 744. Yet the provision was never employed because the bill never made it to the House. Moreover, there are methods for the Senate to get around a blue slip, he said.
“It’s not accurate to say he issued the blue slip because he’s not in the position to issue a blue slip,” Rosenblum said. “He raised this issue that might have been a procedural hurdle for 744 to overcome, but it’s not accurate to say that he prevented 744 from passing.”
Stockman is one of seven Republicans challenging Cornyn in that party’s March 4 primary.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to House Speaker John Boehner as House majority leader.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.