Steve Stockman is running for the Sentate out of Texas (he’s also the guy who made a spectacle of walking out of the State of the Union Address). We know how Republican politics work: his Republican opponent in the primaries dug up a sort-of skeleton in Stockman’s closet:
Stockman’s mugshot has been bouncing around the internet for weeks. The Texas Tribune last month published the arrest records, which indicate that in 1977 Stockman was arrested and initially charged with felony possession of Valium. The Stockman campaign now says that a district court judge in Michigan ordered in 1978 the matter dismissed and expunged.
And apparently Stockman thinks the best way to sweep this under the rug and to prevent maximum exposure is to threaten legal action against anybody who publishes his mugshot:
The Texas conservative’s underdog Senate campaign on Monday published a defiant statement, claiming that Stockman has “grounds to file criminal complaints” against any person or media organization that published his 1977 arrest record and mugshot.
“A Michigan official has removed documents from a state website that erroneously claimed U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman had been convicted of a crime in the 1970s,” Stockman spokesperson Donny Ferguson wrote on the campaign’s website. “Michigan’s 43rd Judicial District Clerk stated Stockman was never convicted of any charge and the documents were supposed to have been destroyed in 1978. Another Michigan official has advised Stockman he has grounds to file criminal complaints against any person or media organization that published the documents.”
Yeah, that’s gonna work out well.
So what exactly happened here? We can actually take it from Stockman’s own words in 1995:
“I was out partying, just like you were or any other kid, and
you’d get busted for a thing and you’d do a weekend in jail for a
traffic violation,” Mr. Stockman said. “So I may have been in jail
a couple of times, two or three times.” He said he could not
The Michigan Department of State keeps driver records only
seven years, so Mr. Stockman’s are no longer available.
One of his jail weekends led to a drug charge.
On Friday Sept. 23, 1977, when Mr. Stockman was 20, he reported
to the Madison Heights, Mich., City Jail to serve two days. Oakland
County records fail to reflect why he was ordered to jail. Mr.
Stockman said it was for traffic violations.
The records state that an officer “found, in doing a strip
search, that Stephen Stockman had 3 Valium tablets 10mg each inside
a cellophane cigarette wrapper which was tucked inside the (fly)
portion of his undershorts. Subject stated that his girlfriend had
given them to him to take while serving his sentence.”
The girlfriend, Mr. Stockman said, “shoved them in my pants, to
tell you the truth, right before I went in for the weekend,” hoping
to make it easier for him “to bear the weekend.”
“Actually, I thought it was a nice gesture, but it ended up
being a very stupid gesture,” he said.
Madison Heights police charged Mr. Stockman with “possession of
a controlled substance, non-narcotic,” a felony punishable by up to
two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.
The records still available are incomplete and fail to reflect
the disposition of the case, though they indicate that the charge
Mr. Stockman’s court-appointed defense attorney in the case,
Thomas H. O’Connor, said he made a deal with the prosecutor: The
felony charge was dropped. Mr. 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”
Stockman’s campaign says the charges were dropped, clearly implying that he was innocent. But he all-but-certainly wasn’t innocent (maybe he was just confused when he said his girlfriend put the drugs in his underwear for him to take while in prison and that he thought it was a sweet gesture). He was in possession of the drugs, gave a positive assessment of his girlfriend’s gesture, was arrested, but plea-bargained the charge down to a misdemeanor. And because owning up to one’s past in politics is apparently a greater sin than misleading the people you’re asking to trust you with their vote (and then with their government) now Stockman is threatening to sue anybody who publishes his mugshot.
The facts are that Stockman did spend several stays in jail (for traffic violations, so who gives a shit?) and that he was arrested for a felony (for which he was guilty but plead down…and also who gives a shit?). Nobody ever said he was convicted, only that he was arrested and spent time in jail. You can’t libel somebody with facts.
PoliticsUSA says it very well:
Wow, where does one begin? How about if we start with Stockman’s relationship with the truth. As someone who appeared on a Holocaust denying radio program, and accused the Attorney-General of premeditated murder, Stockman is in no position to comment on truth or accuracy in the media. As I said in the first paragraph, Stockman has a long and established history of engaging in smear tactics. In fact, he is as credible to lecture anyone to tell the truth as John Boehner is to tell President Obama or anyone else anything about standing up to thugs. Actually, I take that back. Stockman has even less credibility than Boehner, which isn’t saying much.
Moreover, Stockman’s credibility when it comes to the truth about his arrest in 1977 is far less than stellar. His story changed from being open about it in 1995, to denying that he was ever arrested, to denying that he was charged with a felony. In his campaign’s latest version of the truth, it contends that the matter was dismissed and expunged. If it was dismissed, it happened. End of story.
This guy should have to wear his mugshot pinned to his chest until the primaries are over.