Steve Stockman, a former Texas congressman and conservative firebrand, was sentenced Wednesday morning to 10 years in federal prison.
In April, a Houston jury convicted Stockman of 23 felonies, including fraud, in a series of illegal acts prosecutors called "a white-collar crime spree." During a bizarre, weeks-long criminal trial this year, prosecutors said Stockman misused $1.25 million in funds from political donors to pay for miscellaneous and sundry personal expenses: hot air balloon rides, kennel bills and a new dishwasher. Stockman was also accused of planting an undercover intern in the state House office of a political rival, state Rep. James White, R-Hillister.
A federal judge ruled that Stockman was a flight risk and ordered him to await his sentencing in federal custody. He appeared Wednesday morning in an orange jumpsuit, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Stockman's defense team argued that the donors who poured cash into Stockman's campaign coffers gave him broad leeway on how to spend it. During the trial this spring, defense attorney Sean Buckley argued that the case "should never have been filed as a fraud case."
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Instead, Buckley argued, "This is a case about why rich megadonors give money to politicians in America and the methods they use to do it.”
But that argument did not seem to convince the jury, which convicted Stockman on all but one count.
Stockman, who once advertised a bumper sticker reading “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted," served two nonconsecutive terms in the U.S. House before losing a 2014 challenge to U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.