We've been following the bizarre political career of Twitter troll and paleoconservative tea party congressman Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) for sometime now, and ever since declaring his intention to run against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) in the Republican senatorial primary, the Stockman story has grown even more ludicrous.
But first, let's recap. Soon after declaring, Stockman's campaign headquarters were condemned. Then the first primary polling data showed Stockman with only six percent support. If that wasn't humiliating enough, he received exactly zero votes in a tea party straw poll. He began the year by essentially vanishing for an entire month, missing every roll call vote in January despite pledging to vote against a major spending bill and then, of course, he didn't vote. On top of all that, we learned that Stockman hasn't voted in any Republican primary elections since 2004.
And now Stockman's been caught up in a fracas over whether he was arrested in 1977 for smuggling into jail a controlled substance, diazepam, also known as Valium, hidden inside his underpants. (My sincere apologies for forcing you to endure the mental image of Stockman's underpants, but it's part of this insane tale, like it or not.)
Stockman had been reporting for a two-day jail sentence for a traffic violation, and his girlfriend had slipped the cellophane-wrapped Valium into the fly area of the underpants (sorry again). When Stockman was strip-searched (seriously, I'm sorry), authorities discovered the pills. He was initially charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, which was later reduced after his defense attorney cut a deal with the prosecutor. Stockman eventually plead no contest to the lesser charge of "use of a controlled substance."
Early this year, and following Stockman's Twitter attacks and bizarre manifesto against "liberal John Cornyn," a pro-Cornyn super PAC called Texans for a Conservative Majority fired back by producing a website that, among other things, hits Stockman for the drug charges. So now Stockman is suing the super PAC for libel.
Does Stockman have a case? Not a chance.
In a June, 1995 interview with the Dallas Morning News, Stockman said his girlfriend "shoved [the pills] in my pants, to tell you the truth, right before I went in for the weekend."
In a 1995 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Stockman said, "I may have been in jail a couple of times, two or three times," and continued, "When they found [the pills] they charged me with a felony."
Then, in a February, 1996 Texas Monthly profile appropriately titled "Congressman Clueless," the charges appeared again.
Stockman spent more than one weekend in jail for traffic violations, and once, after a girlfriend hid Valium in his underwear before he was incarcerated, he was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a felony that was later dropped.
While we're here, other gems from the profile included Stockman's description of himself as a "studerino," while the article's author wrote that Stockman's "hairbrained ideas and headline-making gaffes have made him the laughing stock of his party." Some things never change.
Nevertheless, he's repeatedly confirmed the incident on the record. It's all searchable online.
Fast forward to last month. On January 31, Stockman filed the libel suit alleging that the super PAC falsely accused him of being charged in the pants incident and of ethics violations.
Donny Ferguson, a campaign spokesman, stated, "The Cornyn PAC claims Stockman had been 'jailed more than once,' was 'charged with a felony' and 'violated federal ethics laws,' all of which are false statements."
The same day, Stockman himself said, "The Cornyn supporters have committed libel per se against me, falsely and maliciously accusing me of a felony. Of course, I have never been charged with or committed any such act, and these anonymous Cornyn supporters know it. As a sitting member of the United States Congress, I find it unconscionable that another member’s supporters would make such reckless, malicious and false allegations."
All of this runs contrary to the reports and quotes from the middle 1990s.
It also runs contrary to, yes, his arrest record and mug-shot, which the Texas Tribune managed to dig up. The document (PDF) proves that a man named Stephen Ernest Stockman with the same birthday as the congressman was booked for felony possession of diazepam. Here's his mug-shot:
This, along with his statements to the press in the 1990s, render the following remarks to be untrue, not to mention the basis for the libel suit.
STOCKMAN: "I have never been charged with or committed any such act." Wrong. He was charged, and admitted to committing such an act.
FERGUSON: "The Cornyn PAC claims Stockman had been 'jailed more than once,' was 'charged with a felony'...all of which are false statements." Wrong. All of that happened.
Now the Stockman people are doubling-down on their story like champs. Donny Ferguson protested, "He never denied being arrested 40 years ago as a teenager. He was arrested for a traffic violation, not drugs. And he was not arrested multiple times or convicted of a felony."
No one ever said he was convicted of a felony -- just that he was initially charged with a felony, which is true. He was absolutely arrested for drugs. And, yes, he was arrested multiple times, and he's admitted it.
It's difficult to pinpoint a bigger clown show than the Stockman campaign, and as much as we collectively laugh at his buffoonery, we should always bear in mind: he still gets to vote on legislation that impacts all of us -- that is whenever he's not trolling on Twitter or wandering the globe.