President Trump on Wednesday commuted the 10-year prison sentence of former Republican Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas.
Stockman was convicted in 2018 of misusing funds donated to charities for which he worked. His supporters argue it took prosecutors four attempts at presenting the case to a grand jury before he was indicted.
Former Reps. Bob McEwen of Ohio and Bob Barr of Georgia were among the many public figures who called for Stockman’s release.
Craig Shirley, a Reagan biographer and presidential historian, contended the charges against Stockman were “cooked up by Barack Obama’s minions as a form of retribution.”
Shirley noted Stockman challenged IRS official Lois Lerner for targeting church and tea party groups under President Obama.
“As a congressman, Steve was a relentless voice against Obama’s tactics against conservatives through cronies like Lerner at the IRS,” he said. “When he continued to raise his voice against what was obviously an Obama hit job on conservative nonprofits, Rep. Stockman found himself in the crosshairs of another hit job.”
Columnist Rachel Alexander contended the charges against Stockman were “made up,” noting an Obama judge sentenced him.
Then, while “every other diabetic over age 60 in his prison was released to home confinement due to COVID-19, he was not due to political bias, and he ended up contracting the virus.”
Dozens of conservative leaders asked for Stockman to be given home detention.
L. Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, James Dobson of the James Dobson Family Institute, former Energy and Interior Secretary Donald Hodel and Frank Pavone of Priests for Life were among the leaders, according to Richard Viguerie’s Conservative HQ.
“With diabetes and a lung condition, Stockman is among the non-violent, non-sex crime prisoners whose health conditions and the conditions within our federal prison system make them ‘sitting ducks’ for a fatal COVID-19 virus infection. Steve Stockman poses no danger to society, but remaining in prison may be a death sentence for him,” the petition said.
“Prisoners with pre-existing bad health conditions are particularly vulnerable to being infected in over-crowded cells, dorms, and feeding facilities,” it stated. “These prisoners were sentenced for crimes, but the present circumstances literally make them at risk for a death sentence, a punishment that does not fit their crimes. These prisoners lack advocates on their behalf, and are even treated with contempt by some within the prison and criminal justice system.”
It said Stockman was serving “under what many have reason to believe was a political prosecution – using three failed grand juries before a fourth indicted him – for criticizing the Obama administration, the lawlessness at the IRS under Lois Lerner, and corruption in the Ukraine.”
“A successful man of intense Christian faith, Steve poses no danger to society, but remaining in prison may be a death sentence for him. Due to the unusual and extreme length of the judge’s sentence, Steve is not eligible for release under the First Step Act,” the petition said.
Alexander said the case against Stockman should alarm all nonprofits.
“If you raise money for a nonprofit, but don’t finish all of the projects you were raising it for, you could go to prison for 10 years. This is no exaggeration. This is what happened to former Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas.”
The central issue was that Stockman raised money from donors for a charity, from which he was paid a salary. Not all of the planned projects eventually were accomplished, but the donors raised no concerns or objections.
The prosecutors then focused on what Stockman did with his salary, claiming it was an inappropriate use of donor money.
A key witnesses for the prosecution, Ben Wetmore, later insisted Stockman is innocent.
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